Sirikwa Classic: World Champion Faith Chepng’etich Dominates Women championship
Double Olympic and World 1,500 meters champion Faith Chepng’etich marked the start of her 2023 season with a commanding performance as she claimed victory at the Sirikwa Classic World Cross Country Championships in Lobo.
Running the cross country course for the first time since 2017, Chepng’etich took control of the senior women’s 10-kilometer race just three kilometers in, charging past Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase champion Jackline Chepkoech to finish in 33 minutes and 50 seconds, a new course record.
The race saw Chepkoech take an early 30-meter lead at the gun, but Chepng’etich waited patiently, gradually narrowing the gap before taking control just before the tent.
The 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo 1,500m champion would go on to build a lead of over 600 meters, leaving Chepkoech in second place with a time of 34:52.
World Under-20 3,000m champion Zenah Jemutai took third in 35:08, while Kenyan-born Roselida Jepketer of Bahrain came fourth in 35:13.
“Ok, this victory is kind of a surprise for me being my first cross country race in six years,” said Chepng’etich. “The thunderous cheering really motivated and encouraged me to push on in my lonely battle at the front.”
Chepng’etich, who last competed at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Kampala where she finished sixth in the senior women’s race, expressed her gratitude for the receptive fans and their role in pushing her to victory.
The double Olympic and world champion added that this race marked the start of her season, and she looks forward to a fruitful year on the track, hoping to secure her third world 1,500m victory in Budapest, Hungary in August.
This year’s Sirikwa Classic World Cross Country Championships marked the second edition of the world cross country tour to be held in the Uasin Gishu County and the 14th series on the world athletics tour.
With Chepng’etich setting the pace, it promises to be a thrilling year in the world of cross country.