World champ places second in IAAF cross country permit meet opener in Spain
World cross country champion Agnes Jebet clocked 24:52 to place second in the opening race of this winter’s IAAF cross country permit meeting on Sunday in Atapuerca, Spain. The race was won by Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi in 24:48 with Africa 10,000 metres champion Alice Aprot coming home third in 24:58.
Tirop made most of the early pace alongside Aprot while the Ethiopians ran comfortably at their shoulders. Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack and Britain’s Kate Hulls were able to live with the Africans’ pace through the second kilometre, which was covered in a moderate 6:50.
But Hulls and then McCormack gradually lost ground and by midway the contest, it became the expected Kenya vs Ethiopia fight with Tirop and Aprot dictating the pace and Teferi and Belaynesh Oljira in close attendance.
Just before the athletes embarked on the final 1.95km lap, defending champion Oljira began to fade as Teferi moved to the front for the first time to heat up the pace. Tirop and Aprot followed her for some 300 metres, but with one kilometre remaining, Teferi broke away with unexpected ease—taking into account that she was leaving well behind Tirop, the world cross-country champion, and a 29:53.51 10,000m runner Aprot.
McCormack was the fastest European in fifth, some 38 seconds in arrears, showing convincing form only our weeks prior to the European cross country championships.
“I knew my form was fine but I was not sure to beat three top athletes like Tirop, Aprot and Oljira,” said the 21-year-old Teferi after securing the fifth successive Ethiopian victory in the women’s race in Spain.
In the men’s category, Commonwealth Games 3,000 meter steeplechase silver medallist, Jairus Birech was the highest ranked Kenyan in fifth place after clocking 25:24
Ethiopia’s Aweke Ayalew took to honours by posting 25:05 with Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich registering similar time after a photo finish.
Former World cross country champion Imane Merga came home third in 25:12 with Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris fourth in 25:22.
European 10,000m bronze medallist Antonio Abadia was the first European finisher, crossing the line in seventh place, just one second clear of fellow Spaniard Ilias Fifa, the European 5000m champion.
“It’s wonderful to be able to beat one of the world’s best cross-country specialists like Imane Merga who is an idol here,” said Ayalew, who finished 10th at last year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Agnes Jebet Tirop displays her gold medal she won in the women’s 8km senior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, on March 28,2015.