Joshua Cheptegei Outkicks Yomif Kejelcha To Join the Great Kenenisa Bekele as World XC and 10,000m Champs in Same Year

October 6, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — World cross country champion Joshua Cheptegei held off a spirited challenge from world indoor mile record holder Yomif Kejelcha over a thrilling last lap to win the men’s 10,000 tonight at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships. The two men ran side by side for much of the final lap but Cheptegei, running on the inside, never let Kejelcha get by and in the end, he pulled away over the final 100 to win in 26:48.35 to Kejelcha’s 26:49.34.

Cheptegei won by running 55.38 for his last 400 to cap off a 4:03.66 final 1600 and 13:14.13 final 5000. With the win, Cheptegei joins the great Kenenisa Bekele as the only people to have won both World XC and World or Olympic 10,000 gold in the same year (Bekele did it three times — 2003, 2004 and 2005 — while Khalid Skah is the only other person to win a global 10,000 title on the track and a World XC title but he didn’t do it in the same year).

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19-year-old Rhonex Kipruto of Kenya, who did most of the leading in the second half until Cheptegei took the lead with just over 1200 meters remaining, earned the bronze in 26:50.32 in a race that saw six men break 27:00, including Mohammed Ahmed of Canada, who became the first Canadian to break 27:00 by running 26:59.35 to place 6th. Ahmed’s training partner Lopez Lomong of the US was 7th in a huge personal best of 27:04.72 (previous pb of 27:30.06), which moved him to #3 on the all-time US list.

In addition to Ahmed, Yemaneberhan Crippa of Italy set a national record at 27:10.76.

Watch the finish of the race here:

If you want to see a little bit more of the last lap, try this link.

Article continues below player.

LRC analysis and post-race videos below results.

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1 Joshua CHEPTEGEI UGA 26:48.36 WL
2 Yomif KEJELCHA ETH 26:49.34 PB
3 Rhonex KIPRUTO KEN 26:50.32
4 Rodgers KWEMOI KEN 26:55.36 PB
5 Andamlak BELIHU ETH 26:56.71
6 Mohammed AHMED CAN 26:59.35 NR
7 Lopez LOMONG USA 27:04.72 PB
8 Yemaneberhan CRIPPA ITA 27:10.76 NR
9 Hagos GEBRHIWET ETH 27:11.37
10 Shadrack KIPCHIRCHIR USA 27:24.74 SB
11 Alex KORIO KEN 27:28.74 PB
12 Sondre Nordstad MOEN NOR 28:02.18
13 Leonard KORIR USA 28:05.73
14 Soufiane BOUCHIKHI BEL 28:15.43
15 Aron KIFLE ERI 28:16.74
16 Rodrigue KWIZERA BDI 28:21.92 PB
17 Abdallah Kibet MANDE UGA 28:31.49
18 Onesphore NZIKWINKUNDA BDI 29:11.50
1000 m 2:43.67 “Abdallah Kibet MANDE” UGA
2000 m 5:27.24 “Abdallah Kibet MANDE” UGA
3000 m 8:08.23 “Rhonex KIPRUTO” KEN
4000 m 10:52.38 “Rhonex KIPRUTO” KEN
5000 m 13:33.20 “Rhonex KIPRUTO” KEN
6000 m 16:16.13 “Joshua CHEPTEGEI” UGA
7000 m 18:56.85 “Rhonex KIPRUTO” KEN
8000 m 21:40.16 “Rhonex KIPRUTO” KEN
9000 m 24:20.79 “Joshua CHEPTEGEI” UGA

Quick Take: Cheptegei borrowed from Mo Farah to win this race

For many years, it was a familiar sight in championship distance races: Mo Farah moving to the lead with a few laps to go and holding off all comers to win the race. Tonight, the strategy was the same, but it was Cheptegei, who took silver in Farah’s last gold-medal run in 2017, doing the leading as he hit the front with 1200 to go and would not allow anyone to pass him.

It was a smart tactical decision, and an important one. Kejelcha tried hard to get the lead on the back straight of the bell lap, but he couldn’t do it, and rather than tuck back in behind Cheptegei with 200 to go, Kejelcha ran extra distance fighting for the lead over the entire final turn.

Perhaps Cheptegei, who won by almost a full second in the end, would have won regardless. But running the extra distance did not help Kejelcha’s chances. He either needed to get the lead (and the inside track) before 200 to go, or he needed to tuck in and attack on the straightaway.

Quick Take: The World XC champ outkicked the indoor mile WR holder

On paper, Kejelcha has much better wheels than Cheptegei: Kejelcha ran a 3:47 indoor mile WR in March, while Cheptegei has a 1500 pb of 3:37 (granted, Tilastopaja lists just two career 1500s for him). But there’s a difference between a rabbitted time trial at Boston University and closing out a sub-27:00 10k, and tonight’s results illustrate that as Kejelcha could only close in 56.15 to Cheptegei’s 55.38.

Just like the marathon, it doesn’t matter what your 400 pb is if you’re too exhausted to use it.

Quick Take: Kejelcha was pleased to finally make the podium outdoors

While Kejelcha obviously wanted gold, he was still pleased with his result as he earned his first outdoor global medal. Indoors, he won world titles in the 3k in 2016 and 2018, but he had been snakebitten outdoors: he was 4th in 2015 and 2017 and didn’t even make the Ethiopian Olympic team in 2016. Now one of the best distance runners over the last five years has a global outdoor medal.

“10k is my longest event,” Kejelcha said, through a translator. “Cheptegei is the best man, the best athlete. I tried my best but he is better than me. He won over me, I am proud of him. I will do better in the next championships. I want to be the winner of the gold medal at next year’s Olympics.”

As for Kejelcha’s now-banned coach Alberto Salazar, Kejelcha said, through a translator, Kejelcha said he found out the news from the internet and that he has had no contact with Salazar since Salazar’s four-year ban was announced.

Quick Take: Lopez Lomong is BAAACK

Lopez Lomong has had a great career. He was the flag bearer for the United States Olympic team in 2008. He also made the Olympic team in 2012, but after making the Worlds team in 2013, Lomong didn’t make the US teams in 2015, 2016, or 2017. We wouldn’t have blamed you if you thought his career was on its way to being over. Lomong said he wondered as much himself. In addition, Lomong said he was dealing with the death of his dad and brothers in his family. Lomong, now 34, said his wife encouraged him to continue. He won the US 10,000m title last year, but it was an “off year” in a sit-and-kick race perfect for a miler. Lomong turned a few heads when he ran 27:30 at USAs this year, and then he ran 13:00 for 5,000m before Worlds. He came close to breaking 27 minutes today moved to #3 all-time on the US list (the question in the video below is incorrect. Lomong is #3 all-time, not #10).

Quick Take: Shadrack Kipchirchir moved backwards from 2017

Two years ago, Kipchirchir ran a pb of 27:07 for 9th in London. Tonight, he finished one place lower and 17 seconds slower, and he was disappointed with that result, particularly because he knew after seeing Rhonex Kipruto in Kenya that it would be a fast race in Doha tonight.

“My legs were not firing,” Kipchirchir said.

Quick take: Moh Ahmed gets Canadian record and goes sub-27

To show how far Moh Ahmed has come as a runner, he became the first Canadian to go sub-27 in the 10,000m in finishing 6th tonight, but after winning the bronze in the 5,000m he wanted more.

“A few years ago, I’d be delighted, excited and over the moon about it,” Ahmed said. “But I wanted another medal.”

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