Mercy Cherono wins the women's race (© Organisers)
Here is the first of the IAAF website’s weekly round-ups of the major cross-country races around the world in the coming months, in addition to individual previews and reports of the IAAF Cross Country Permit meetings, as we begin the build-up towards the highlight of the winter, the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, on 28 March.
World 5000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono from Kenya was beaten in Atapuerca last weekend, but the 23-year-old was a clear-cut winner of the 21st edition of the Cross Internacional de Soria on Sunday (23).
Cherono, who in the meantime travelled to Monaco to support Nairobi’s successful bid to stage the 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships and was present at the 2014 World Athletics Gala on Friday, moved away from a predominantly continental field on the third of the two-kilometre loops with her compatriot Doris Changeywo.
The pre-race favourite duly delivered, pulling away to win in 27:35 with Changeywo 10 seconds back in second. Early leader Catarina Ribeiro from Portugal placed a rather distant third in 28:10.
“I was tired because I was in Monaco all week on other matters but at least I was able to train in the mornings there,” said Cherono.
Timothy Toroitich became the second Ugandan winner of the men’s race in succession after Dickson Huru's success 12 months ago, winning over 10km in 29:58 and coming home ahead of Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin and Kenya’s Emmanuel Bett, who were second and third in 30:02 and 30:09 respectively.
World cross-country champion Japhet Korir performed better than in Atapuerca, where he barely made the top 20, but Kenya’s surprise winner of the title in Bydgoszcz last year still finished more than a minute behind the winner in sixth place.
Avery and Cheserek win NCAA titles
Iona College’s Kate Avery became the first British-born winner of the NCAA Cross Country Championships since Kathy Butler in 1995 in Terre Haute on Saturday.
Avery, who finished second 12 months ago, kept faithful to the front-running tactics she employed last year. This time, she pulled away from the field after just two kilometres of the 6km race and built up a lead which extended to about 50 metres at its furthest.
Her advantage pretty much stayed the same to the line as a jubilant Avery – who could be a factor at next month’s European Cross Country Championships in the Bulgarian mountain resort of Samokov – crossed the line eight seconds ahead of University of Wisconsin’s Sarah Disanza.
In the men’s race, University of Oregon’s Edward Cheserek retained his title.
In a tactical affair, the Kenyan who went to high school in the USA won in 30:20 to defeat his team mate Eric Jenkins by four seconds, with Northern Arizona’s Futsum Zienasellassie from Eritrea third in 30:25.
Cheruiyot returns to competition
In her first race in a little less than two years, three-time world champion Vivian Cheruiyot placed fourth over 8km at the Tuskys Wareng Cross Country in Eldoret on Sunday.
Having returned to training in June after the birth of her first child in October 2013, the 2011 world cross-country champion is now aiming to make her mark at the Kenyan Trials next February and gain selection for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Alice Aprot Nawowuna – the sister of former world cross-country champion Joseph Ebuya – took the spoils ahead of Irene Cheptai, winning by 10 seconds in 26:58. Cheruiyot clocked 27:22.
In the men’s 12km race, Kenyan 5000m champion Joseph Kitur had the beating of Alex Kibet, winning by three seconds in 36:33.
Having impressed during the track season with 800m and 1500m bests of 2:00.58 and 4:05.32 respectively, 19-year-old Federica del Bueno stepped up in distance to win the senior 6.75km race in 22:37 at the Cross della Valsugana on Sunday while steeplechaser Patrick Nasti won the men’s race over 9km in 26:31.
Three weeks after finishing an impressive third on her marathon debut in New York, Portugal’s Sara Moreira showed she has recovered quickly by winning the 7.5km race at the 33rd Cross de Torres Vedras, just outside Lisbon, by 37 seconds in 26:07 on Sunday.
Hassan opens season in style
Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands easily retained her title at the 56th International Warandeloop Cross Country in Tilburg on Sunday.
The European 1500m champion won the 8.1km race in 27:32 to beat Austria’s Jennifer Wenth by a commanding 36 seconds.
Khalid Choukoud also took top honours on home soil, winning the men’s race over 10km in 30:03.
African junior steeplechase champion Woynshet Ansa from Ethiopia easily won the women’s 4.86km race in 17:21 at the 57th edition of the famous French race the Cross Volvic, which attracted a record 1873 entrants this year.
Ahmed Tamri from Morocco won the men’s 7.39km race in 23:14.
Steven Mills for the IAAF