Sam Chelanga finished 11th in the senior men's 10K at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on Sunday. (Photo by Michael Scott)
Sam Chelanga, a 2011 Liberty graduate, paced Team USA with an 11th-place finish in the senior men's 10K at the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Sunday at the Kolo Independence Grounds in Kampala, Uganda.
Chelanga posted a time of 29:12 on a hot day which featured sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s. That put him 48 seconds behind two-time world champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya, who won in a time of 28:24.
The United States finished fifth in the team competition with 78 points, trailing only team champion Ethiopia (21), runner-up Kenya (22), third-place Uganda (72) and fourth-place Eritrea (75).
Chelanga methodically moved up through the pack throughout the race. He was in 26th place after the first of five 2K laps before moving up to 22nd at the end of two laps and then to 18th and 14th after the third and fourth laps, respectively.
"I just told myself, ‘let me just try and do my best,'" stated Chelanga after the race. "We tried to stay together, but the pace got hot. I was pretty happy with my performance, I came here wanting to represent the USA. Once the pace got out and I couldn't see anyone from the USA ahead of me, I just wanted to go and try and get anyone ahead of me. It was one of those races where you just have to fight, and I did."
By virtue of his top-15 finish, Chelanga earned an automatic qualifying standard in the 10K for this summer's IAAF World Track & Field Championships, provided he makes the U.S. team in the event.
The 2017 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be contested June 22-25 at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, Calif. The meet will determine Team USA's qualifiers to the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, set for Aug. 4-13 in London.
Chelanga's impressive result in Uganda closed out an impressive six months of racing. On Oct. 9, he successfully defended his title at the USATF 10 Mile Championships, covering the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., in 47:25. As a result, Chelanga finished second to Christo Landry in the 2016 USATF Running Circuit overall men's standings.
On Dec. 10 in Tallahassee, Fla., Chelanga took home the individual men's title at the 2016 USATF Club Cross Country Championships. His winning time of 28:55 helped his American Distance Project squad claim the men's team championship.
Chelanga got to wear the Team USA singlet for the first time on Jan. 7, racing in the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland. Chelanga placed fourth overall and second among the Americans in an 8K time of 24:23. That effort put him ahead of four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain in seventh place and helped Team USA claim the overall victory.
Chelanga earned his berth in the World Cross Country Championships on Feb. 4, by virtue of his fourth-place showing at the 2017 USATF Cross Country Championships. He clocked a 10K time of 30:23 on a snowy day in Bend, Ore.
On Feb. 26, Chelanga celebrated his 32nd birthday by becoming the first American (male or female) ever to win the World's Best 10K in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Chelanga's time of 28:19 put him two seconds in front of Kenya's Phillip Langat, earning the $15,000 first prize.
Chelanga is currently living in Colorado Springs, Colo., training with coach Scott Simmons and his American Distance Project group. Chelanga's training partners include Hillary Bor, Stanley Kebenei, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Leonard Korir and others.
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