Strong victory for Jesus Espana in Valladolid (© Alfambra Fundación ANOC)
On a packed Spanish athletics weekend Spain’s Carlos Castillejo managed a shock win from Kenya’s reigning World Marathon record holder (2:03:38) Patrick Makau at the ‘Mitja Maraton de Granollers’, a Half Marathon held on Saturday (4), 1:02:37 and 1:02:40 their respective times. Over 19,000 runners took part in the event.
Held on a cold (4ºC) day, the Spanish trio of Rafael Iglesias, Jaume Leiva and Castillejo were the early leaders to cover the opening five kilometres in 15:49 with Switzerland’s current European Marathon champion Viktor Rothlin just behind them while a large Kenyan squad including Makau travelled four seconds adrift.
By the 10km point the Kenyan pair of Bernard Kitur and Luka Kanda had taken charge of the race in 30:56 closely followed by Castillejo (30:57), Makau and his fellow Kenyan Hillary Kipchumba. The four Africans took turns at the head for the remaining kilometres – they reached the 15km section in 45:40 and the 20km in 59:46 – but they didn’t manage to leave Castillejo behind at any moment.
The closing 500 metres were more than thrilling as the native Castillejo – he lives barely a few miles away – was able to unleash a powerful kick to romp home victorious in 1:02:37 while Makau had to settle for the runner-up place in 1:02:40.
The women’s section was taken by Beatrice Chepchumba of Kenya with a 1:12:42 clocking, just one seconds ahead of her compatriot Antonina Rutto.
The 33-year-old Castillejo secured his Olympic berth last December by taking the national title with a 2:10:02 time for the Marathon on his debut. The ecstatic victor was quoted as saying: “Today’s has been my most important success to date; I’m a newcomer to the road events but I’m already used to them. My next target is the Spanish Cross Country championships (to be held in Gijón next 5 March) and then I’ll kick off my build-up for the Olympic Marathon in London.”
As for the 26-year-old Makau, he praised Castillejo - “he has been a tough rival” - and explained that the cold weather had not been ideal for him.
Lamdassem leads Bikila to European team Club Cup gold
Spain’s reigning European Cross Country silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem grabbed a thrilling sprint victory from Italy’s Andrea Lalli at the 49th European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country in the Spanish town of Castellón on Sunday (4). They both were credited 28:36 for the 10,000m race.
Backed by Javier Guerra’s fourth place, the Spanish team ‘Bikila’ landed the gold medal thanks to a 25 points scoring while another Spanish squad ‘Otsu Colibri Guadalajara’ led by third placed Ricardo Serrano (28:41) took silver with 4op. Italy’s ‘Fiamme Gialle’ completed the podium (42p) while last year’s victor ‘Conforlimpa’ of Portugal had to settle for fourth on this occasion.
In the women’s competition the Turkish squad ‘Uskudar Belediye’ snatched team gold in style with a 19p scoring led by the 1-2 managed by Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira (a 31:17.80 10,000m performer) and Turkey’s Asli Cakir (a creditable 5th at the Barcelona Europeans over 1500m), 18:52 and 18:54 their respective times over 6000 metres. The Russian team ‘Luch Moscow’ landed silver (29p) headed by Olga Golovkina in 5th while the Portuguese team of ‘Maratona’ – Dulce Félix came 4th - won the bronze medal by a narrow margin (54 vs 55p) from Italy’s ‘Esercito’, whose best representative was Nadia Ejjafini in 3rd, timed at 18:56.
Weldu and España take the spoils in Valladolid XC
Eritrea’s Nazaret Weldu out-sprinted Spain’s Marta Domínguez at the ‘Cross Internacional de Valladolid’ held also on Sunday (4). In so doing, the 22-year-old completed a hat trick of victories on Spanish soil this Cross Country campaign following her wins in Amorebieta (8 January) and San Sebastián (29 January). Weldu made most of the pacing duties but had always been a threatening presence to Domínguez. Over the closing stages, the 36-year-old Spaniard tried to overtake Weldu but the Eritrean hold off her challenge.
In the men’s 10,000m event Spain’s reigning European 5000m silver medallist Jesús España ran at Eritrea’s Issak Sibhatu shoulder throughout to out-sprint him over the closing 500 metres, 30:20 the winning time for Sibhatu’s 30:23 while Tomás Tajadura – the current Spanish 3000m Steeplechase champion –completed the podium 9 seconds behind the winner but two seconds clear of 2009 European indoor 1500m silver medallist Diego Ruiz.
Cáceres and Abad show fine early indoor fitness in Zaragoza
Spain’s rising star Eusebio Cáceres was one of the leading athletes at the ‘13rd Gran Premio CAI – Ciudad de Zaragoza’ held on Saturday (3) night. The reigning World Junior Long Jump silver medallist and European Junior record holder at 8.27m had to wait until the very last round to grab the win as the Cuban-born Luis Felipe Meliz (7th at the Beijing Olympics) headed the contest thanks to a 7.93m second-round effort. The 20-year-old Cáceres leapt 7.97m in round six just some minutes before taking the runner-up place in the 60m with a 6.77 time only behind Ángel Rodríguez’s 6.64.
Despite the fact of being held over a tight 180-metre track the middle-distance events were eagerly awaited thanks to the presence of the current European indoor 1500m champion Manuel Olmedo. But the 28-year-old was finally beaten by his training mate Francisco Javier Abad who ran always closest to the pacemaker to romp home in 3:39.90 for Olmedo’s 3:40.31. The 30-year-old Abad holds a 3:35.55 1500m outdoor performance.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF