KAMPALA, Uganda, Mar 27 – Asbel Kiprop returned to the cross country with a bang after he led the Kenyan quartet to victory for the inaugural IAAF World Cross Country Mixed Relays at a packed Kololo Grounds in Kampala on Sunday afternoon.
The Kenyan fantastic four of three-time 1500m world champion Kiprop, 800m runner Winfred Nzisa, Beatrice Chepkoech and Bernard Koros ensured Kenya bag first gold in the opening race.
Kenya finished first in 22:22 ahead of a strong Ethiopian team that had 1500m women world record holder Genzebe Dibaba as they grabbed silver in 22:30 while Turkey settled for bronze in 22:37
Asbel did well to start off the race, as he tactically led the group controlling the pace with Ethiopian Welde Tufa breathing on his neck.
However, Kiprop tactically beat Tufa who had at one point overtaken him to power through, opening a 200m gap at the bend and open up the strides as he passed the Kenya crowd who cheered him up to pass the baton to Mbithe.
Mbithe did well to burst up from the start, opening a big gap even though she looked tired heading to the third hill but it was null since she had already done the damage to pass on the baton to Koros.
Koros had a tough time to maintaining the gap as she was under pressure from reigning 3000m indoor champion Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha who pushed the Kenyan hard.
However, Koros managed to hold on to hand over to Chepkoech who battled it out with Dibaba.
Dibaba did well to close on the gap but she was out of gas as Kiprop had already done the work when he opened up in the first lap.
Kiprop was delighted to return to Cross Country with a win and said she was looking forward to repeat the fate in two years, but first on his tray is the August London World Championships.
Runners in the mixed relay were completing one lap each for a total of four laps per team.
Alex Isaboke is reporting from Kampala, Uganda