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VIDEO: Ugandan digs so far into the well that he staggers to finish at worlds

Joshua Cheptegei stumbles to the finish line after a brave effort at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda.

Joshua Cheptegei

From first place to 30th in the matter of minutes.

That’s how quickly Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei’s race unravelled at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships on Sunday in Kampala, Uganda. The 20-year-old was leading the senior men’s 10K until 800m to go before Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor surged past him and went on to win. That pass was about when Cheptegei really began labouring due to fatigue. In fact, it almost looked as if he wouldn’t finish.

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Veering side-to-side on the course, Cheptegei persevered to run on instead of dropping out and, as a result, locked up third place for the home squad in the team standings. Had he dropped out, the team would not have reached the podium. He is the runner in the yellow kit in the featured videos.

“A really interesting case of how external factors (home crowd) influence pacing and how physiology ultimately trumps motivation,” sports scientist Ross Tucker wrote on Twitter about Cheptegei. Cheptegei had a fairly sizeable gap on the competition with 2K remaining as it appears he mistimed his kick and put in too strong an effort too early in the race. The large home crowd may have influenced his decision to take the lead earlier than he may have done otherwise.

According to LetsRun.com, who were on scene, the Ugandan crowd “were eerily silent as Cheptegei staggered to the finish” though he was recognized by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni after he finished. Cheptegei ended up finishing the 10K in 30:08, more than 90 seconds back of Kamworor’s 28:24.

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