The distance races at the Allianz Memorial Van Damme were memorable, from the women’s steeplechase, which asserted Kenyan women’s strength, as well as the surprises at the women’s 1,500m and men’s 800m, plus a sizzling men’s 5,000 meters. This feature was written by Justin Lagat, senior writer for RunBlogRun in Kenya.
It appears that Kenya’s stores in the women’s 3000m steeplechase race will still last the country some years to come after the immediate former and the reigning world U20 champions ran impressive times at the Brussels Diamond League. The two Kenyans; Jackline Chepkoech and Beatrice Cherotich ran new personal best times to finish 1st (9:02.43) and 5th (9:09.63), respectively, running against some of the world’s best runners in the event that included the world record holder, among others.
Chepkoech took the lead just after the pacesetter, Virginia Nyambura, who had taken the field through the first 1000m in 3:00.85, dropped off. At 2000m, where she crossed in 6:04.90, Chepkoech was already alone at the front with the pre-race favorite, Werkuha Getachew of Ethiopia, trying her best to close the gap and seeming to be successful as they approached the bell. But, Chepkoech had already secured a safe lead for herself to enable her to hold on successfully to win the race. Getachew followed a second later for second place in 9:03.44, while Winfred Yavi came in a distant third in 9:08.03.
In another exciting race of the evening in which all the runners, except one in the top ten positions, registered their personal best times; Kenya’s Jacob Krop took the initiative to pace a fast pace in the last stages of the men’s 5000m race and proceeded to win it in a new world-leading and a personal best time of 12:45.71.
USA’s Grant fisher, who had hung on to the two Kenyans in the final stages of the race, got to overtake Daniel Ebenyo, who was beginning to fade with two laps to go, and settled for the second position in a new American record of 12:46.96. The only person who didn’t record a personal best time in the top ten, Nicholas Kimeli, finished 3rd in 12:50.97.
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There was a great surprise in the women’s 1500m race when Ireland’s Ciara Mageean produced a great finishing kick on the home straight to run a new national record of 3:56.63, beating a quality field to emerge victorious. Great Britain’s Laura Muir finished second in 3:56.86 while Freweyni Hailu of Ethiopia finished 3rd in 3:56.94.
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Diribe Welteji, who had opened a great gap on the rest of the field earlier in the race, was run down with almost 150m to go and would finish fourth.
In a race that had all the medalists from the world championships in Oregon, Jake Wightman upset them all in the men’s 800m as he took to the lead on the home straight and won the race in a new personal best time of 1:43.65. Djamel Sedjati, who had won silver in Oregon, finished second in 1:44.12, edging the world champion Emmanuel Korir in a photo-finish as the two registered at the same time.