World Champs Men’s 10K — Cheptegei Picks Up His Third

With a dip into marathoning next on his schedule, Joshua Cheptegei won with a bold, sudden move. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

CAUGHT IN A BOX with 600m to go, Joshua Cheptegei made quick work of what appeared to be a dicey finish as he pulled wide and got the jump on the 7-man lead pack, hitting the gas with 500m left and staying clear in a flat-out sprint to the finish to win his third straight Worlds 10,000 gold — timed in 27:51.42.

Daniel Simiyu (27:52.60), a late addition to the Kenyan team, ran through the finish line to pass Olympic champion Selemon Barega (27:52.72) and claim silver. List leader and Olympic 4th-placer Berihu Aregawi (27:55.7) again finished a place short of a medal.

“I am very excited and proud that I have succeeded in winning my third world title in a row,” Cheptegei proclaimed. While holding World Records at 5000 (12:35.36) and 10,000 (26:11.00), the 26-year-old Ugandan asserted, “It has always been important for me to win major titles like the legends of running, Kenenisa [Bekele] and Mo Farah.”

Starting off on a sweltering 90-degree, 68 dew point evening, no one save Cheptegei’s teammate Joel Ayeko seemed in a hurry, and he led the pack through 4K in 11:32.71. Aregawi stepped into the void, upping the pace a bit to cross halfway in 14:21.75.

At 6400m (16 laps) Barega took the lead and added some tempo with a 65.95. Aregawi was quick to up the ante with a string of 64–65 laps netting a 4:19.54 split for the 1600 through 8400m. That move pared the lead pack down to 7.

With a bit of resignation, Aregawi eased up a bit and a tightly bunched pack of 7 headed into the final 800. Cheptegei ran just off the lead between Aregawi and Barega, Canadian Moh Ahmed and the Kenyan trio of Simiyu (aka Ebenyo), Kibet and Nicholas Kipkorir.

As Aregawi lifted the pace, the chasers scrambled for position down the backstretch. Barega pulled wide and zipped up to Aregawi’s shoulder leading an elevator dash to the pole that in the span of 30m dropped Cheptegei from 2nd to a well-boxed 6th.

Looking remarkably composed, the Ugandan ace waited for the back door to open, pulled out to the third lane and lengthened his stride around the turn, reaching full speed as he blew by his surprised rivals with 500m to go.

Off a flying start, Cheptegei streaked up the straight in 12.77, seizing a stride lead over Aregawi at the bell. As Cheptegei’s unsuspected move literally turned the heads of his rivals, they did well to scramble an all-out pursuit.

Cheptegei maintained a stride lead around the turn (13.27) and down the backstretch (13.34) as Barega (13.17) then Simiyu (13:37) moved past Aregawi heading into the final bend. Barega pulled closer at the top of the turn but began to press and lost ground as Cheptegei rounded the turn in 13.39 to net a 52.77 lap after his break.

With his 3-peat in hand Cheptegei cruised the final straight in 13.45 to split 53.45 over the final lap, and an even more impressive 66.22 final 500 — which is a simply smoking half-kilo.

Cheptegei’s manager Jurrie van der Velden relayed, “There was no specific plan. This was Joshua himself taking control of the race. With the position he found himself in with 500m to go, it was his gut feeling to go hard and don’t look back.”

In December Cheptegei will make his marathon debut in Valencia, the city of his 10,000 WR. With a possible shift to fall marathons he revealed, “This might be my last championships at the track, that’s why this gold medal means even more.”

Woody Kincaid led the U.S. squad, finishing 11th in 28:08.71. Sean McGorty (28:27.54) ended up 16th with Joe Klecker (29:03.41) 20th.


(August 20)

1. Joshua Cheptegei (Uga) 27:51.42 (13.45, 26.84, 53.45, 1:53.17, 4:05.37) (14:22.72/13:28.70)

(2:51.04, 2:53.80 [5:44.84], 2:53.34 [8:38.18], 2:55.49 [11:33.67], 2:49.05 [14:22.72], 2:52.64 [17:15.36], 2:44.24 [19:59.60], 2:42.52 [22:42.12], 2:44.15 [25:26.27], 2:25.15)

2. Daniel Simiyu (Ken) 27:52.60 (14.01, 27.49, 54.11, 1:54.25, 4:06.11) (14:22.23/13:30.37);

3. Selemon Barega (Eth) 27:52.72 (14.34, 27.94, 54.44, 1:54.46, 4:06.09) (14:25.17/13:27.55);

4. Berihu Aregawi (Eth) 27:55.71 (15.83, 30.65, 57.50, 1:57.81, 4:09.73) (14:21.75/13:33.96);

5. Benard Kibet (Ken) 27:56.27 (14.16, 29.05, 56.91, 1:57.90, 4:09.65) (14:22.00/13:34.27);

6. Moh Ahmed (Can) 27:56.43 (15.41, 30.05, 57.37, 1:58.50, 4:10.43) (14:23.57/13:32.86);

7. Rodrigue Kwizéra (Bur) 28:00.29;

8. Nicholas Kipkorir (Ken) 28:03.38;

9. Yann Schrub (Fra) 28:07.42; 10. Birhanu Balew (Bhr) 28:08.03; 11. Woody Kincaid (US) 28:08.71 (14:23.90/13:44.81); 12. Yemaneberhan Crippa (Ita) 28:16.40; 13. Isaac Kimeli (Bel) 28:20.77; 14. Adrian Wildschutt (SA) 28:21.40; 15. Ren Tazawa (Jpn) 28:25.85; 16. Sean McGorty (US) 28:27.54 (14:23.66/14:03.88); 17. Santiago Catrofe (Uru) 28:28.49 NR; 18. Zerei Kbrom Mezngi (Nor) 28:30.76; 19. Merhawi Mebrahtu (Eri) 28:50.62; 20. Joe Klecker (US) 29:03.41 (14:28.33/14:35.08); 21. Nils Voigt (Ger) 29:06.79; 22. Rogers Kibet (Uga) 29:10.07;… dnf—Carlos Díaz (Chl), Yismaw Dilu (Eth), Joel Ayeko (Uga).

(leader kilos: Ayeko 2:46.69, 5:41.66, 8:37.30, 11:32.71; Aregawi 14:21.75; Kibet 17:14.11; Aregawi 19:59.17, 22:41.26, 25:26.04)