Chepkok, Cherono take honours at Venta de Banos

Mercy Cherono crosses the line

Kenya’s 2012 World Cross Country Championships bronze medalist Vincent Chepkok and his compatriot Mercy Cherono clinched victories in style at the 33rd Cross Internacional de Venta de Banos  on Sunday .

The men’s 10.6km event, with temperatures at about nine degrees centigrade when the gun went, witnessed the dominance of the 24-year-old Chepkok, who grabbed his first win in Europe this winter after being runner-up at the opening leg of the IAAF Cross Country Permit series, on Spanish soil in Atapuerca last month.

At the European Athletics Cross Country Permit meeting in Spain on a rainy and windy day Chepkok also managed his first success in Venta de Banos after finishing second two years ago.

It was not until the fourth kilometre that Chepkok and Kipkemoi moved to the front and set a brisker pace.

The opening two 2100m laps were covered in 7:05 and 7:13 but by the end of the third circuit, completed in 6:58, Chepkok only had Kipkemoi and Jimenez for company.

The decisive move was made by Chepkok 25 minutes into the race when he decided to break away from the 28-year-old Kipkemoi. He opened a sizeable margin in a matter of just few metres.

In women’s race, Britain’s Hannah Walker audaciously decided to go to the front over the opening kilometre of the 6.8km race, leading a pack with Kenya’s two-time IAAF World Junior Championships 3,000m gold medallist Cherono, Eritrea’s Nazaret Weldu, Morocco’s Malika Asahssah, Italy’s Nadia Ejjafini and Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar.

pulling away

The 21-year-old Cherono, who also won the 2010 World Cross Country Championships junior women’s race, then opened up the throttle, going through the first two laps in 7:47 and 7:38 before reaching the bell seven seconds in front of Walker.

Walker was making up for the slight disappointment of only finishing when she was considered to be a potential medal contender. In turn, Walker had  nine seconds to spare of a chasing trio consisting of Aguilar, Asahssah and Kenya’s Lydiah Chepkurui.

Cherono continued to pull away from her rivals on the last lap to win by the handsome margin of 23 seconds from Walker, while the Briton also had a hugely impressive run to come home 11 seconds in front of Weldu, who suffered her first loss this winter.taking top honours in the team race.

Thweatt’s victory was much more clear-cut as she won the 6km race by 20 seconds with Beasts TC, who had three finishers in the top seven, winning the team race on their first attempt.