Geoffrey Kamworor wins senior mens race in dramatic run to the finish


Kenya's Kamworor won the #iaafkampala2017 senior men's race.

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The senior men's race, five laps of the course, was the final elite race for the day. With all of the amazing stories of the day, this race, again, the final race of the day, would be a fine end for the 2017 IAAF Kampala World Championships.

The speed of the first laps of the World Cross Country is reknowned. A pack of thirty plus, lead by Geoffrey Kamworor, completed the first lap in 5:12! That is 27 minute 10k pace! As the race moved on, Vincent Kipsang Rono, team mate of Geoffrey Kamworor, lead through the second lap, (5:50 for second 2k), hitting 4k in 11:02. After the crazy fast first lap, the crowd of thirty was reduced to 11, which included Geoffrey Kamworor, Leonard Barsoten, and Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei.

It was on the third lap, that the race took a different turn. Joshua Cheptegai had been the focus of national promotions in Uganda for the World Cross Country. Cheptegai rushed to the front of the field, in lap three, to the absolute delight of the Ugandan fans. Were they going to get a second gold medal at the World Cross Country champs. After the win of Jacob Kiplimo in the U20 race, the crowd had been ecstatic. That third lap took Cheptegai through six kilometers in 16:47 (5:45 for 2 kilometers), giving Cheptegai a one second lead over Kamworor, as the field strung out.

And then, Joshue Cheptegai revealed his plan, as he flew over the fourth lap, in 5:34, hitting 8 kilometers with an 11 second lead! Cheptegai was focused, and the crowd was going crazy. As I listened to the IAAF radio broadcast, which was brilliant, the announcer noted that Cheptegai was looking better and better. 8 kilometers was passed in 22:21.

At 8 kilometers, Chepetegai began the long run home, one more lap of 2 kilometers. The only person not questioning the Ugandan's finish was Geoffrey Kamworor. Between kilometers 8 and 9, the lead dropped from 11 seconds to seven seconds. The inspired pace over the two laps by Joshue Cheptegai was reminding his body that reality must set in soon. For Cheptegai, reality was the slowing of his body, forcing him from the swift pace of before, to barely a jog.

Kamworor is an experienced racer. In championship races, it is, many times, the athlete who keeps their cool, and a bit of a finish.

Geoffrey Kamworor could sense the change in Cheptegai, making up seven seconds in 200 meters, and taking the lead at 800 meters to go. Geoffrey Kamworor took off and, over the last 800 meters he built a 12 second lead, to defend his title in 28:24.

Joshue Cheptegai collapsed with 500 meters to go, willing himself on to the finish somehow, finishing in thirtieth, and saving the bronze team medal for Uganda.

After the race, Kamworor told the assembled media, " When the Ugandan broke away, I kept my cool and ran my race. I knew he would get tired. His pace was too high and it would have been amazing if he had maintained it to the end."

On the team side, Ethiopia scored 21 to Kenya's 22! How close can a race get. Keptegai's 30th gave Uganda 72 over Eritrea's 75 and United State's 78.

Top US finisher was Samuel Chelanga, 11, Leonard Korir, 20, Shadrack Kipchirchir, 21, Stanley Kebenei, 26, Scott Fauble, 36, Trevor Dunbar (DNF).

After Chelanga's 11th, hats off to Aussie Pat Tiernan, NCAA Cross Country champion, who took 11th.

It has been a strange year for Geoffrey Kamworor, who won the World Half Champs on March 25, 2016, and had a rough 11th place in the Rio 10,000 meters. His build up, and his focus were rewarded in the challenging course, and day that Kampala, Uganda provided for the 2017 World Cross Country Championships.

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