Roncero heads for victory in Yecla (Pascual Aguilera - El Faro - for the IAAF) © Copyright
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Roncero unstoppable in Yecla

Yecla, SpainFabián Roncero captured a clear win in the ‘Cross Fiestas de la Virgen’ on Sunday and proved to be fully recovered from the fascia injury which prevented him going for a medal in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Munich last summer. The organiser’s efforts were well rewarded as the start list featured 3 of the first 7 from the European Cross Country Championships held one week ago in Medulin (Croatia): Roncero himself (3rd), fellow countryman Enrique Molina (7th) and Portuguese Helder Ornellas (5th).

Before the 2 kilometre point Roncero took over at the head of the race for the first time but he fell on a gravel area shortly afterwards, continuing the bad run of luck he started in Medulin when he was forced to run without his left shoe from the 3rd km, but nonetheless manager to take the bronze medal. This time in Tecla, the 32-year-old Roncero got up quickly and caught the main group with ease.

By then, Kenya’s Enock Mitei had decided to push the pace, while 5000m World Cup winner Alberto García stayed in close attendance, in his first cross country race of the season, alongside Molina, El Nasri, Roncero and  Ornellas among others. The first remarkable contender to lose ground was Portugal’s Paulo Guerra, far from the top form which had taken him to 4 European Cross Country titles in the past.

At halfway it was 10,000 European bronze medallist José Ríos  who dropped from the leading group, still headed by Mitei as the rest of favourites held on. When they went through the 7th kilometre (20:40) Roncero tested the rest of the pack by picking up the pace dramatically and as a consequence Portugal’s Ornellas, who fell while sprinting with 50m to go in Medulin, also lost touch.

At 8000m five men still had chances of winning, Mitei and Spaniards Roncero, García, Molina and El Nasri, but suddenly in the final kilometre Roncero unleashed a breathtaking kick to leave the other four with no chance. Former World indoor 3000m bronze medallist  Molina was in pursuit although he never looked like catching Roncero, who romped home 30m clear of Molina. Twice U23 5000m European champion El Nasri pipped Mitei for 3rd in the closing stages as García completed a classy top five.

A delighted Roncero declared: “Honestly, I hoped for this victory. My only worry was that I had run 200 kilometres this previous week and I really didn’t know how my body was going to react”. Asked about his forthcoming performances the man who topped the 2001world list in the half marathon with a 59:52 clocking in Berlin confirmed: “Probably, my next competition will be in Madrid (San Silvestre Vallecana) on December 31”.

On this sunny day 28-year-old Merima Denboba, 6th in the long race at the World Championships in Dublin last spring,  was the favourite and she lived up to her status by dominating from the gun. The race soon developed into a three-way battle between Denboba, Kenya’s Selina Kosgei and Portugal’s Ana Días; meanwhile, the European 5000m champion Marta Domínguez was running conservately in the chasing pack making her debut this season.

Demboba sped away from the rest of the field within the opening kilometre while Kosgei and Días duelled for another kilometre before the Kenyan pulled clear of Días. At halfway it was clear that, barring disaster, the eventual winner would be Ethiopia’s Demboba as she had already built a 15 second lead. Far venid, Spanish hero Domínguez ran at marathoner María Abel’s shoulder confident of her higher track speed.

Demboba, runner-up in the long race at the Worlds in Belfast 1999 finally won by the handsome margin of 18 seconds over a tiring 10,000 Commonwealth winner Kosgei competing for the 4th week in a row, while Días came a safe 3rd never threatened by Domínguez, who outsprinted Abel in the final straight to cross the finish line in fourth place, some 40 seconds adrift of Demboba.


Men (10,000m course)

1 Fabián Roncero (ESP) 29:20
2 Enrique Molina (ESP) 29: 24
3 Yousef El Nasri (ESP) 29.26
4 Enock Mitei (KEN) 29:29
5 Alberto García (ESP) 29:38
6 Helder Ornelas (POR) 29:50
7 Mauricio Díaz (CHI) 29:56
8 Paulo Guerra (POR) 30:14
9 Ignacio Cáceres (ESP) 30:23
10 Pablo Villalobos (ESP) 30:37

Women (6000m course)

1 Merima Denboba (ETH) 19:02
2 Selina Kosgei (KEN) 19:20
3 Ana Días (POR) 19:24
4 Marta Domínguez (ESP) 19:42
5 María Abel (ESP) 19:45