There were little surprises in the senior races as Jacob Kiplimo and Beatrice Chebet defended their world titles at the Belgrade World Cross Country Championships.

As expected, the Kenyan women took control of the second half of the 10K race, forming a leading pack of five that kept stretching the gap against the rest of the world. None of the medal contenders, comprising Beatrice Chebet, Agnes Ngetich, Margaret Kipkemboi, Emmaculate Anyango, and Lilian Kasait, could be shaken off the formidable pack until within the last 1km.

Anyango was the first to yield to pressure at around 500m as Kasait and Chebet engaged another gear at the front as the battle for the top medals began. The group soon followed each other in a single file as Chebet overtook Kasait some meters to the finish line to defend her title in 31:05. Kasait (31:08)came in second for silver ahead of Kipkemboi (31:09), who won the bronze medal. Anyango overtook Ngetich on the home straight to finish fourth, while Ngetich took fifth.

BELGRADE, SERBIA—MARCH 30: Beatrice Chebet of Kenya poses with a flag after winning the Women’s Senior race during the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Belgrade 2024 on March 30, 2024, in Belgrade, Serbia.
(Photo by © Adam Nurkiewicz for World Athletics)

It was another time that the Kenyan women again scored a perfect score of 10 points to win the team title, the other time having been at the 2017 edition in Kampala, where they had finished in the 1-2-3-4-5-6 positions.

The senior men’s race started relatively slower until Kenya’s Gideon Rono surged and opened a gap almost 50m ahead. The duo of Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo reacted and ran side by side to close the gap. The rest of the field started to stretch out.

In the last lap, Kiplimo still had some extra energy to propel himself ahead as a gap began to form between him and a small group of chasers. Kiplimo was comfortably in the lead in the final 400m, while Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi and Kenya’s Benson Kiplangat were still battling for the silver medal behind him. As Kiplimo crossed the finish line to defend his title in 28:09, Aregawi followed to take the silver medal in 28:12 ahead of Kiplangat in 28:14.

BELGRADE, SERBIA—MARCH 30: Berehanu Tsegu of Ethiopia, Jacob Kiplimo, Leonard Chemutai and Joshua Chptegei of Uganda, Samwel Chebolei Masai and Benson Kiplangat of Kenya competed in the Men’s Senior race during the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Belgrade 2024 on March 30, 2024, in Belgrade, Serbia.
(Photo by © Adam Nurkiewicz for World Athletics

The senior men’s title again went to the Kenyan runners.

The U20 women’s race was the day’s first event, unintentionally serving to take the TV fans on a course tour. It was as though the young Ethiopians had been told to wait until they saw a Kenyan at the front before making their move. A Kenyan momentarily stepped at the front, and the six Ethiopians responded by quickly coloring the front of the leading pack green. Marta Alemayo, running 19:28, led Asayech Ayichew (19:32) and Robe Dida (19:38) to a podium sweep by the Ethiopians.

BELGRADE, SERBIA—MARCH 30: Marta Alemayo of Ethiopia leads in the Women’s U20 race at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Belgrade 2024 on March 30, 2024, in Belgrade, Serbia.
(Photo by © Adam Nurkiewicz for World Athletics)

The U20 men’s race progressed into what appeared to be a fiercer battle between the Ethiopians and the Kenyans. Samuel Kibathi took the individual gold title in 22:40, one second ahead of Ethiopia’s Mezgebu Sime. Another Kenyan, Mathew Kipruto, took the bronze medal at 22:46.

BELGRADE, SERBIA – MARCH 30: Samuel Kibathi of Kenya crosses the finish line to win in the Men’s U20 Final during the World Athletics Cross Country Finals Championships at The Park of Friendship on March 30, 2024, in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images for World Athletics)

The mixed relay gold medal went to the Kenyan team after Kyumbe Munguti extended their lead in the penultimate leg. Ethiopia finished second ahead of Great Britain.

BELGRADE, SERBIA – MARCH 30: Dahdi Dube and Taresa Tolosa of Ethiopia exchange the baton in the Mixed Relay Final during the World Athletics Cross Country Finals Championships at The Park of Friendship on March 30, 2024, in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images for World Athletics)

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