Cheptegei, a beast in Vallecas

In the wonderful madness of the San Silvestre Vallecana, the one with 41,000 runners through the streets of Madrid who later run out again to sit at the family table and say goodbye to the year, Joshua Cheptegei was a beast. The Ugandan athlete gave even more cachet to the 10 kilometers that Antonio Sabugueiro invented in 1964, when he only ‘fooled’ 57 brave men.

In a palmares in which there is a certain Eliud Chipchoge or home legends like Mariano Haro, José Luis González or Martín Fizthe Ugandan inscribed his name, who took the victory with a time of 27:09, unable to approach the stratospheric 26:41 established by Jacob Kiplimo four years ago, but finishing the race when he wanted. He was accompanied on the podium by Mo Katir (27:18) and Jesús Ramos (27:53). The women’s triumph was also Ugandan Prisca Chesang (30:19). The two winners achieved the third best mark in the history of the race.

Cheptegei (26 years old), who has his lair in Kapchorwa, a green land where he gets up at 05:30 to run and then doubles in the afternoon, is the current world champion of 10,000, Olympic champion of 5,000 and current world record holder of the two distances. A galactic who had not competed since August, when he ended up touched on one knee. Without being seen in winter, its performance could be unknown. And around it swarmed a cunning wolf, Mo Katir, the current champion, willing to suffer to bite if there was a chance. The one from Mula (Murcia) had warned that he was arriving “better than last year, with more resistance”, after his cross-country season. But Cheptegei was too much for everyone.

MADRID, 12/31/2022.- The Kenyan Esther Chesang (c) after winning this Saturday in the popular San Silvestre Vallecana, in which more than 41,000 runners have participated through the streets of Madrid.  EFE / Marshal

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MADRID, 12/31/2022.- The Kenyan Esther Chesang (c) after winning this Saturday in the popular San Silvestre Vallecana, in which more than 41,000 runners have participated through the streets of Madrid. EFE / Marshal
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The Ugandan, nervous, went out like a starting shot, keeping an eye on the timer on his wrist every so often. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Only Mo Katir, imperial in his pace, and a brave Jesús Ramos managed to keep up with him on the frantic downhill that San Silvestre proposes until he practically entered Vallecas. After 5 km, Ramos gave in and everything ended in a dizzying one-on-one. The Murcian endured more, until eight. But from there the lashes on the asphalt of Cheptegei were impossible to neutralize. Alone, he headed for the road to the state of Vallecas and raised his arms without opposition. He came to Madrid for that and he complied. Perfect.

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In the female category, after Chesang (19 years old), the Burundian Francine Niyonsabafifth in 10,000 at the Tokyo Games, which marked 30:58, and the Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech, world champion of 3,000 obstacles, with 31:06. The first Spanish, fifth, was Naima Ait Alibou (32:36).

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