Burundi’s Kwizera stuns Kenya’s Chepkwony, Kariuki to shine in Soria Cross-Country tour
Rodrigue Kwizera of Burundi emerged the winner of this season’s World Athletics Cross Country tour beating his Kenyan rivals Hillary Chepkwony and Peter Kariuki in Soria, Spain.
Kwizera was among the leading pack as the race entered the 8km mark and had the company of Spain's Ouassim Oumaiz, who eventually finished third.
Meanwhile, in the second lap, Kariuki, Aron Kifle of Eritrea, and Burundi's Celestin Ndikumana started falling off the leading pack, fighting probably for third place. Following another 7:13 lap, seven contestants reached the bell, with Oumaiz, Kiprotich, Chepkwony, Kwizera, and Eritrea's Filmon Kibrom at the helm.
At about 250 m, Oumaiz, Kwizera, Chepkwony, and Kiprotich entered the final kilometer completely on par, but towards the finish line, Kwizera and Chepkwony left Oumaiz and Kiprotich behind as they fought for victory.
Finally, Kwizera, who is based in Spain, emerged as the winner, and this was his first victory of this cross-country season as he was third in both the Atapuerca and Seville races. However, both Kwizera and Chepkwony were given the same finishing time as was the case in Seville.
"I’m so happy, as this is my first win this season. I decided to take a risk on the last bend, but that was the key, as I managed some valuable meters on Chepkwony and could resist his late attack. I'll next race in Alcobendas if I solve some visa issues," Kwizera said.
In the women's race, Kenya's Lucy Mawia was completely overshadowed, although the two-time winner took the early lead in the early stages, with Ethiopia's Likina Amebaw and Asayech Ayichew, Italy's Valentina Gemetto, France's Alessia Zarbo, and Argentina's Fedra Luna all following her.
At the 2.5km mark, Mawia's struggled to break off from the leading pack before Sanchez-Escribano and Carolina Robles, an Olympic finalist in the steeplechase in 2021, regained the lead midway through the penultimate lap, which was covered in a slightly quicker 8:28, according to World Athletics.
The Kenyan faded off and dropped out as seven women remained in contention, with Amebew and Ayichew finally conquering the race to finish in first and second place, respectively.
“Before the start, I didn't feel at my 100%, so I decided to see how the race would develop and not push too hard at any time. Luckily, my tactics paid off," Amebew said.
1 Rodrigue Kwizera (BDI) 25:34
2 Hillary Chepkwony (KEN) 25:34
3 Ouassim Oumaiz (ESP) 25:40
4 Martin Kiprotich (UGA) 25:40
5 Filmon Kibrom (ERI) 25:41
6 Peter Kariuki (KEN) 26:00
7 Nassim Hassaous (ESP) 26:04
8 Sergio Paniagua (ESP) 26:04
9 Fernando Carro (ESP) 26:11
10 Thierry Ndikumwenayo (ESP) 26:12
1 Likina Amebaw (ETH) 29:44
2 Asayech Ayichew (ETH) 29:45
3 Valentina Gemetto (ITA) 30:06
4 Marta García (ESP) 30:11
5 Carolina Robles (ESP) 30:18
6 Irene Sánchez-Escribano (ESP) 30:28
7 Cristina Espejo (ESP) 30:46
8 Marta Pérez (ESP) 30:54
9 Esther Navarrete (ESP) 31:02
10 Lli Anna Vincis-Toth (HUN) 31:04