James Kibet and Lilian Rengeruk claimed a Kenyan double at the 61st edition of Campaccio on a rainy and cold day at the IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in San Giorgio su Legnano.
Kibet won a close men’s 10km race in 29:34 holding off Ethiopian Tesfaye Deriba and Olympic 5000m silver medallist Paul Chelimo in a thrilling final sprint.
In a similarly close women’s race, world cross-country bronze medallist Rengeruk edged world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop by one second.
A leading group formed by Kibet, Chelimo, Deriba, Uganda’s Mande Bushendich, Italian steeplechase specialist Italo Quazzola, European marathon record-holder Sondre Moen, Abdi Bashir from Belgium, Filmon Ande from Eritrea and European under-23 cross-country bronze medallist Yeman Crippa took the lead in the early stages, going through the first lap in 6:11.
Pre-event favourite Chelimo went to the front after two laps in 12:06 closely followed by Kibet, Crippa, Bashir, Bushendich, Ande, Moen and Deriba.
At about the six-kilometre point, Crippa tried to push at the front together with Kibet, Deriba Abdi and Ande.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Ande forced the pace on the fourth lap and broke down the lead pack to six athletes.
The race went down to the wire with a sprint for the final 300 metres. Kibet and Tesfaye broke away from Chelimo and battled it out for the win with Kibet eventually getting the victory in 29:34, the same time as Tesfaye. Chelimo finished third in 29:38, beating Ande by two seconds.
“I did not think about winning the race but it was my dream to follow in the footsteps of the big stars who have won here in the past, like Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie,” said Kibet, who set a 5000m PB of 13:11.88 at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin last September.
“I followed my plan and stayed in the group before pulling away on the final lap,” added Kibet, who will now turn his attention to trying to qualify for Kenya’s team for the Commonwealth Games.
In sixth place, Yeman Crippa was the first European runner in 29:51, beating Moen by nine seconds.
Rengeruk upstages Obiri and Tirop
World cross-country bronze medallist Lilian Rengeruk, world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop, Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai and Ethiopia’s Gete Alemayehu went to the front at the start of the women’s race, going through the first lap in 6:41.
Tirop then set the pace, going through the second lap in 9:48 while being closely followed by Rengeruk and Obiri.
When Tirop broke away on the final lap, Rengeruk was the only runner to keep up with her. Obiri, the defending champion, started to struggle in third place and was dropped.
Rengeruk and Tirop battled it out in the final sprint with 300 metres to go. Tirop took the lead in the back straight at the entrance of the Angelo Alberti athletics track but Rengeruk launched a kick to overtake her compatriot in the final straight, crossing the finish-line first in 19:02 to hold off Tirop by one second. Gete Alemayehu took a surprising third place in 19:23, beating Obiri by five seconds.
“I did not expect to win against such a great field,” said Rengeruk, the 2013 world U18 3000m champion, who last year set PBs of 8:32.73 for 3000m and 14:36.80 for 5000m. “It was my first race of the year and I am happy that I started the season with a win.”
Rengeruk will compete at the IAAF Cross Country Permit races in Elgoibar and Seville later this month before attempting to qualify for Kenya’s 5000m team for the Commonwealth Games.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 James Kibet (KEN) 29:34
2 Tesfaye Deriba (ETH) 29:34
3 Paul Chelimo (USA) 29:38
4 Filmon Ande (ERI) 29:40
5 Mande Bushendich (UGA) 29:49
6 Yemaneberhan Crippa (ITA) 29:51
7 Sondre Nordstad Moen (NOR) 30:00
8 Abdi Bashir (BEL) 30:09
9 Joseph Gray (USA) 30:16
10 Eyob Gebrehiwet Faniel (ITA) 30:35
1 Lilian Rengeruk (KEN) 19:02
2 Agnes Tirop (KEN) 19:03
3 Gete Alemayehu (ETH) 19:23
4 Hellen Obiri (KEN) 19:28
5 Peruth Chemutai (UGA) 19:34
6 Muriel Coneo (COL) 20:24
7 Valeria Roffino (ITA) 20:29
8 Desirée Linden (USA) 20:44
9 Martina Merlo (ITA) 20:55
10 Matylda Kowal (POL) 21:01