Asbel Kiprop secured a comfortable victory in Saturday's (January 7) Great Edinburgh XCountry event as the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team prevailed in the international competition. Kiprop finished the 3k race in a time of 9:20 with British runner Jonny Hay clinching an impressive second, five seconds behind the Kenyan.
Much of the pre-race hype had focused on Olympic world record holder Kenenisa Bekele's return to Ediburgh after a two-year absence. Bekele's performance, however, was far from over-whelming with the Ethiopian finishing in eleventh position and more than 20 seconds off Kiprop.
Speaking after the race, Bekele wasn't willing to lay blame with anyone but himself: "The course was okay and my shape is not good, that's the reason. My goal is to build up for the Olympics and I want to do it slowly." He continued: "I'm not happy with the result. I wanted a good position but my body was not ready."
Despite the cloying conditions, Kiprop gave an impressive performance and broke from the pack in the final km. The Kenyan runner said he anticipated a strong challenge in the closing stages, yet none materialised: "I expected Bekele and the others to come up on me and I was surprised when they didn't respond."
The international competition saw the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team take the title, defeating the USA and a European Select. Emelia Gorecka followed up her success at the European XCountry Champsionships with victory in the junior women's event.
In the senior competition, British duo Gemma Steel (21:52) and Elle Baker (22:08) gave an impressive showing as they finished behind Fionnuala Britton (21:32) in second and third position, while Freya Murray secured fifth place in a time of 22:17.