Unknown runner, Geoffrey Kamworor, and Agnes Tirop win World Cross Country senior titles in Guiyang, China! A View from Kenya, by Justin Lagat,

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Geoffrey Kamworor, photo by PhotoRun.net

I remember when Geoffrey Kamworor surprised some with his win in March 2014 at the World Half Marathon Championships. Justin Lagat, like many true fans, stayed up late in the evening watching the WXC on his computer screen. Here is Justin's piece on the winners of senior men and women's races. 


Unknown Runner, Geoffrey Kamworor, and Agnes Tirop win WXC senior titles in Guiyang, China, by Justin Lagat

With the first six athletes, three Kenyans and three Ethiopians, in the senior men's race at the world cross country championships in Guiyang having crossed the finish line, the Kenyan team was already ahead of the Ethiopian team by 5 points. 
But, after the fourth Ethiopian came in 7th, it took the fourth Kenyan, Phillip Langat, quite a while to get to the finish line 
and had he managed to finish just one place better than the 12th position, the outcome would have changed. 

The status of the Kenyan men's team at the podium and the overall medal standings would have changed, giving Keny and Ethiopia equal numbers of gold and silver medals, if only the fourth place runner had finished in eleventh. It was interesting to observe how crucial this fourth finisher, in one single event, could turn so crucial to the whole contingent of Kenyans who had set out to represent the country in China.

However, Kenyans were able to win all the individual titles in the senior races as Ethiopians won the junior titles.

Geoffrey Kamworor, since December last year,  had repeatedly posted on his FaceBook account that he was focused and determined to win the world cross country title. After the Kenyan national trials where he had finished second behind Bedan Karoki, he had expressed his pleasure at having made it to the national team and promised his fans to expect more at the world cross country championships having studied the strength of his main opponent and what he needed to work on.

"Today, I was fighting to make the team, but in China, my aim will be to win the gold medal," Kamworor had said after the Kenyan trials and for sure he did not disappoint after an electrifying race as he battled it out with his team mate, in a class of their own, at the closing stages of the race.  Kamworor really wanted very much to win this race and he did it. Muktar Edris of Ethiopia  having trailed the two leaders dangerously in the latter stages of the race came in third to win the bronze medal.

Coincidentally, Agnes Tirop who had also finished second at the Kenyan national trials was able to run a spectacular race to win the senior women's race. Her chances of winning this race had been boosted by the absence of her compatriot, Faith Chepng'etich, who had to give up her ambitions after getting injured in the Kenyan training camp before the championships.

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Agnes Tirop, Emily Chebet, Faith Kipyegon, Kenya XC 2015, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

Tirop led her race from gun to tape as others kept exchanging themselves in the runner-up position behind her. At the early stages of the race, there were six Ethiopians and six Kenyans in the leading pack. The number kept decreasing until the last lap when Tirop was left with only Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia to compete for the gold medal. It was an intense moment as the two ran close together. No one knew who was going to pull out a stronger finish in the end. She finally managed to break away with a few meters to the finish line as Teferi followed to take the silver medal and Netsanet Gudeta also from Ethiopia came in to take the bronze medal.

It has been an exciting day for athletic fans across the world with great defining moments for the athletes who have just been crowned world champions. Kamworor, who was hardly known a few years ago and even having been commonly referred to as the Unknown Runner has just become a two times world champion today after having won the world half marathon champion title last year. Agnes Tirop has also entered the senior category in a special way.

We can now wait anxiously for two more years before we can witness another two hours of exciting world cross country event in Kampala, Uganda.
 

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