Josh Cheptegei Repeats as World 10,000m Champion, Grant Fisher Finishes 4th

July 17, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. – Joshua Cheptegei is a world champion again. In 2019, Cheptegei won his first global track title by claiming the 10,000 meters in Doha, and on a sunny afternoon three years later at Hayward Field, the 25-year-old Ugandan successfully defended his title, emerging from a wild five-way kick in the home straight to win in 27:27.43. In between those two titles, Cheptegei was knocked off his perch by Selemon Barega in last year’s Olympic final, but Cheptegei left no doubt today, holding off Barega, Olympic bronze medalist Jacob Kiplimo (who took bronze again in 27:27.97), and ascending Kenyan star Stanley Waithaka Mburu (silver in 27:27.90), thanks to a 53.42 last lap.

Barega, the World Indoor 3,000 champion known for his kick, surprisingly finished off the podium in 5th as American Grant Fisher was 4th in 27:28.14 – just .17 off of a medal and tied for the best finish ever by an American in this event at Worlds (Galen Rupp was also 4th in 2013).

With the race starting at 1 p.m. local time, conditions were warm and sunny (73 degrees) but not as brutal as the high heat and humidity of Tokyo a year ago.

After a modest 14:01.32 opening 5k, Kiplimo went to the front and ran a few 64 second laps, but then the pace lagged and with four laps to go (23:25.72) there were still 13 guys in contention. At the bell there were still 8 in contention.

Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia took the lead before the bell, but Joshua Cheptegei went around him on the turn and led on the backstretch. Berega tried to beat Cheptegei to the turn, but Cheptegei held him off and would lead the final around the final turn. On the homestretch, Cheptegei woud slowly pull away from Barega. Barega began to fade a little as the final 100m 5 guys were in contention for the medals. Mburu would come up and pass Barega to get silver and Kiplimo would get the bronze with Fisher passing Barega for 4th.

This is a flash recap. Results and discussion below.

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Analysis and post-race interviews coming from the crew in Eugene.

10,000m Results

27:27.43 SB
27:27.90 SB
27:27.97 SB
27:33.57 SB
27:38.73 SB
27:43.50 SB
29:21.10 SB

Quick Take: Joshua Cheptegei is once again the king of long distances; now he’ll get a battle with Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 5,000

Cheptegei first made a name for himself at Hayward Field eight years ago by winning the World Junior 10,000 title. By that time, Cheptegei had already set an ambition to become the greatest senior distance runner in the world, which quickly grew to greatest distance runner of all time. Cheptegei still has some work to do to enter that discussion, but his resume is growing by the year. He was already, along with Kenenisa Bekele, one of just two men in history to win World XC, a world title on the track, and an Olympic gold. Now he has a second world title on the track, and of course he is the world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters as well.

Cheptegei is still a few years away from rivaling Bekele in the GOAT conversation, but a win in the 5,000 next week to secure double gold would help his case. Problem is, Cheptegei has a guy named Jakob Ingebrigtsen standing in his way.

After the race, Cheptegei said he wanted the race to be fast but when he woke up and saw that the weather was different than yesterday (hotter, sunnier, and windier) he decided it would be foolish to push the pace. He aid you can’t run 26 minutes in these conditions – well you can, but then everyone else would kick by you after you lead them to the last lap.

“I wanted to make it a faster race but then aking up today, we saw that the weather conditions weren’t all that good as compared to yesterday when the women did the 10k, so we said to ourselves, ‘Maybe we just follow the race and make it happen in the end,” said Cheptegei who added he’s in better shape this year than last year.

Quick Take: It’s time to learn the name Stanley Waithaka Mburu

After medaling at five straight Olympics/Worlds from 2013-19, Kenya missed out on the podium in Tokyo last year. In fact, they didn’t put anyone in the top six. But the medal “drought” only lasted one year as 22-year-old Stanley Waithaka Mburu finished an impressive second place in his first senior global final.

We know many of you are thinking, Who?

But Mburu showed his talent a while ago, earning bronze in the 3k at the World U18 champs in 2017 and silver in the 5,000 at the World U20 champs in 2018, beating the likes of Ingebrigtsen, Selemon Barega, Jacob Kiplimo, and Cooper Teare (by over a minute) in the latter race. But Mburu, who splits his time between Kenya and a corporate team in Japan (to be eligible for the New Year’s Ekiden you have to spend 120 days a year in the country), hadn’t improved his pbs (13:05/27:13) since 2019 and was only second at the Kenyan trials this year so his silver was a surprise.

For the record, his silver makes us wonder what the Kenyan Trials winner, Kibiwott Kandie, would have done if he’d been in this race. He was barred from it as lacked the World standard. This just proves that spots should go to the country based on how many people have the standard and if you beat them in a legit trials race, you can go.

Quick Take: Grant Fisher had mixed emotions after finishing 4th

The United States has never medalled in the 10,000 at Worlds, but Grant Fisher came closer today than any American ever had before, finishing 4th just .17 out of the medals (Galen Rupp was also 4th in 2013 but was 1.78 seconds back of 3rd). That was a one-spot improvement on his result from Tokyo last year, and in the process he beat Ethiopian stars Berihu Aregawi and Olympic champ Selemon Barega. Before the race, it would have been stunning to see Fisher beat Barega and fail to medal, but this is a World Championship. Medalling is not meant to be easy.

“Mixed emotions here,” Fisher said. “4th is the highest I’ve ever finished. Americans don’t usually finish too high in the 10k. But man, it was close [to a medal].”

Fisher was in 5th at the bell on the inside and hugged the rail for most of the final lap until moving out on the final turn to pass a fading Berihu Aregawi. Unlike USAs, where he was beaten by Joe Klecker and felt as if he could have made better tactical decisions – Fisher said the race still haunts him – Fisher felt he made the right moves today but just came up short.

“You’re playing a little chess,” Fisher said. “I thought I played pretty well. When you get 4th, you’re thinking of the what-if’s a lot, so I’m sure I’ll go back and look at the last lap and see something I could change, but I think I was pretty close to maximizing myself today.”

Fisher is still only 25 and still improving, so if he can stay healthy and continue putting himself in the mix like this, he’s got a good chance to win a medal with more global champs in 2023, 2024, and 2025 (and the 5,000 next week in Eugene).

Best finishes by an American man in the World Championship 10,000

Year Location Athlete Result
2022 Eugene Grant Fisher 4th, 27:28.14
2013 Moscow Galen Rupp 4th, 27:24.39
2015 Beijing Galen Rupp 5th, 27:08.91
2009 Berlin Dathan Ritzenhein 6th, 27:22.28

Quick Take: What happened to the Ethiopians?

It’s not a shocker that Joshua Cheptegei won this race as his coach Addy Ruiter told us before the meet that he believes Cheptegei is fitter than when he was second at the Olympics last year. What was a shock was that no Ethiopians finished in the top four. Barega, the Olympic champ, won World Indoors earlier this year, as well as the Paris Diamond League 5k, and the Ethiopian 10,000 trials (in a quick 26:44). Berihu Aregawi was the Diamond League champ last year and won the Pre Classic 5k by 16 seconds. Yet both men were run out of the medals on the final lap.

This field was clearly strong – Cheptegei is the best long distance runner of his generation and Kiplimo was an Olympic medalist. But for the top American to beat the top Ethiopian in this race – something that had happened just once in this meet since 1987 – was a stunner.

Quick Take: Joe Klecker and Sean McGorty know they’ve improved but still need to keep improving

Last year, Klecker couldn’t hang with the lead pack but today he was able to stay with it until the final 1200. He said he’ll now turn his attention to shorter distances (1500s and 5000s) and that he wants to figure out a way to get in the Diamond League final.

McGorty said working out with Ahmed and Fisher gives him a barometer of where is he on a constant basis.

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