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Posted: March 28, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Kenyan Kiplagat Caps Cross Country Season With World Title

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Kenyan Florence Jebet Kiplagat, who won two invitational cross country meetings in Spain this year plus the Kenyan Trials, capped her season with a victory at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan, today. It was the first significant title for the 22 year-old athlete.

Kiplagat did not lead for any of the first three laps, but always stayed within striking distance of the leaders. Seventeen women were still within one second of the lead at the halfway point of the 8 km race (12:36), and Kenyans Pauline Korikwiang and Lineth Chepkurui were controlling the pace with New Zealander Kim Smith. Both Korikwiang and Smith fell back in the third lap, and Ethiopia's Meselech Melkamu led last year's bronze medalist, Linet Masai of Kenya, and 2005 junior champion Gelete Burka of Ethiopia through 6 km.

Saving her best for last, Kiplagat managed to come from behind and put a three second cushion between her and Masai by the finish line, hitting the tape in 26:13 to Masai's 26:16. Melkamu held on for third another three seconds back. Early leaders Korikwiang and Smith finished 11th and 13th, respectively.

The coveted team title went easily to Kenya, who finished second last year to arch rival Ethiopia. The Kenyans placed their women 1-2-4-7 to score a scant 14 points. Ethiopia got second with 28, and Portugal was a surprising third with 72 points (Ana Dulce Félix and Sara Moreira finished 15th and 16th, respectively).

The Netherlands' Hilda Kibet was the top European finisher in sixth place, and the top North American was Julie Culley of the United States in 21st (the USA was the 5th place team).

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