In their debuts, Daniel Ebenyo and Emmaculate Anyango won the men’s and women’s titles at the Sirikwa Classic World Cross Country Tour gold-level event this weekend, January 3rd, at Lobo Village in Eldoret.

Ebenyo, the world 10,000m silver medallist, ran confidently as he remained calm inside the leading pack. Different runners, including Benson Kiplangat, the 2021 U20 world champion; Robert Kiprop, the All-African Games champion, and others, exchanged the lead in attempts to push the pace a little and make early breaks, but Ebenyo just sat there behind whoever went to the front. He was buying his time.

With one lap to go, Ishmael Kipkurui, the reigning world U20 cross-country champion, made the move to break away, and only Ebenyo could keep up with him. At times, the two ran shoulder to shoulder, creating an exciting climax as fans expected a real battle between the two in the closing stages. However, Ebenyo proved the stronger of the two as he easily opened a significant gap on his opponent with about 500m to go.

Ebenyo ran 29:16 to finish two seconds ahead of Kipkurui. Weldon Kipkirui Langat came in ten seconds later to complete the men’s senior race podium.

Emmaculate Anyango wins Sirikwa Cross Country, photo from Meet Management.

Running on legs fresh from breaking the women’s world record on January 14th in Spain, Anyango dominated the women’s race from the start. She broke away from the rest of the field within the first lap of the 2km loop and ran alone, some 200m ahead throughout the race.

Behind her was another different race amongst some of the world’s best long-distance runners, including Joyciline Jepkosgei, the 2019 New York and 2021 London Marathon champion, and Catherine Reline, the world’s 8th-ranked road runner and world road running bronze medalist.

As Anyango went ahead to comfortably win the race in 32:55, Jepkosgei came strongly from behind in the last lap to overtake several runners before getting some resistance from Reline as they battled for second position. Jepkosgei eventually took second in 33:10 ahead of Reline, who ran 33:18.

In the U20 8km men’s race, there was a two-way battle between Mathew Kipkoech and Samuel Kibathi in the last kilometre. Kipkoech reigned supreme after running 23:32 ahead of Kibathi’s 23:37. Charles Rotich finished third in 23:40.

Mercy Chepkemboi won the U20 6km women’s race in 20:07 ahead of Dianna Chepkemoi (20:10) and Sheila Jebet (20:12)

In another high-profile race that was not part of the World Tour program, world 800m silver medalist Emmanuel Wanyonyi and Purity Jepkirui won the senior men’s and women’s 2K titles.

Abel Kipsang controlled the first stages of the men’s race before Wanyonyi overtook him in the first kilometer. In the end, Kipsang faded behind Victor Kipkirui and Edwin Kiprono.

In the women’s race, Miriam Cherop, Evaline Chepkoech, and Winfred Mbithe followed each other in that order behind Jepkirui.

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