Ugandans Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei will face off at the Cross Internacional de Itálica on Sunday
The pair are currently two of the world’s leading distance runners.
They clashed last year in this race, the victory going to Joshua Cheptegei on that occasion while Jacob Kiplimo finished runner-up barely one second behind so Sunday’s event will act as a rematch over the 9975m distance.
The 22-year-old Cheptegei looked destined for gold at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 before fatigue set in during the closing stages, forcing him to settle for 30th place. However, he bounced back that season by earning10,000m silver at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 in a huge career best of 26:49.94.
His 2018 accolades include a brilliant 5000/10,000m double victory at the Commonwealth Games in April and more recently a world best over 15km with a stunning 41:05 performance at the Seven Hills Run in Nijmegen on 18 November.
As for Kiplimo, still just 18, he remains unbeaten this winter season having won all four of his appearances on Spanish soil: the Atapuerca, Soria and Alcobendas Cross Country permit races plus the New Year’s eve 10km race in Madrid when he clocked an impressive 26:41, albeit on an aided course. The two Ugandan aces should play a key role at World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus on 30 March and Sunday’s race will mark the season’s first round between the pair.
Mande Bushendich might well complete the podium in what would be an Ugandan clean sweep. The 21-year-old proved to be in top form in Madrid’s New Year’s Eve 10km with a 27:24 clocking to his name.
Kenya’s Vincent Rono, a creditable seventh at the Kampala World Championships and recent winner in Venta de Baños on 16 December, will also be in contention alongside Bahrain’s Albert Rop who is fresh from a victory in Amman on 5 January.
Watch out too for Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, the reigning world 3000m steeplechase silver medallist; the 23-year-old boasts an impressive 7:58:15 career best which places him in the top-ten on the all-time lists. He will be joined by his compatriot Abdelaati Iguider, the 2012 world indoor champion and Olympic bronze medallist over 1500m.
posted Saturday January 19th