Joseph Ebuya of Kenya on his way to winning the Campaccio Cross Country race (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
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Ebuya and Kalovics take Campaccio Cross Country win

Reigning IAAF World Cross Country champion Joseph Ebuya triumphed in 28:15 in the men’s 10km at the 54th edition of the Campaccio EA Permit Meeting held on a chilly day in San Giorgio su Legnano, the venue for the 2006 European Cross Country Championships. Kenya claimed a podium sweep. Leonard Komon finished second four seconds behind Ebuya. Dennis Masai finished third in 28:51, two seconds ahead of Olympic 10,000 metres bronze medallist Micah Kogo. Former European Junior and Under-23 cross country champion Andrea Lalli finished sixth and first among European athletes in 29:29.

Aniko Kalovics of Hungary won the Campaccio for the fourth time in her career after 2004, 2009 and 2010 clocking 20:04 in the 6km women’s race. The women’s race featured an all-European field. Kalovics prevailed over Belgium’s Veerle Dejaeghere by 11 seconds. Portuguese Ana Dias, tenth in the individual race and gold medallist in the team’s ranking at the European Cross Country Championships on home soil in Albufeira, finished third in 20:28.

Men’s race

The men’s race started at a slow pace in the early stages when Italian distance running hope Andrea Lalli took the initiative with 10,000 metres European bronze medallist Daniele Meucci and Simone Gariboldi, while Kenyans Ebuya, Komon, Masai, Kogo and Gideon Kipketer ran more conservately in the first lap. Shortly before completing the first of six laps Ebuya joined the leading group which featured Lalli, Meucci and Kipketer. Ebuya took the lead for the first time at the beginning of the second lap.

Kenyan runners took over the leading positions during the second lap. Only Lalli and Meucci managed to keep up with the pace set by the five leading Kenyans Ebuya, Komon, Masai, Kogo and Kipketer.

At 4km Ebuya, Komon, Masai, Kogo and Kipketer increased their lead over Lalli to 10 seconds (11:38 to 11:48). Ebuya and Komon increased their pace at 5km when they remained alone in the lead running a neck and neck race. They went through the 6km mark in 17:11 building a gap of 10 seconds over Masai and Kipketer. Kogo passed the 6km in 17:26.

Komon went to the front at the bell passing the 8km in 22:47 with 2km to go trying to force the pace but Ebuya was well in control of the race.

Komon, who set two World records on the road in 2010 clocking 26:44 in the 10km in Utrecht and 41:13 in the 15km in Nijmengen, led for most of the last lap until the final 300 metres at the entrance of the local athletics track Angelo Alberti. Ebuya launched his final kick at the start of the final bend overtaking Komon by about tweny metres in the final straight to take the win in 28:15.
It is the fourth win this winter season for Ebuya who has already claimed wins in Soria, Leffrinckouche and Alcobendas and was beaten only by Eritrea’s World Cross Country silver medallist Teklemariam Medhin in the IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in Atapuerca.

Ebuya, who is a former World Junior medallist in the 5000 and 10,000 metres in Bejing 2006 and finished fourth at the World Junior Cross Country race in Fukuoka 2006 and in the Senior Race at the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh 2008, will be aiming at defending his World title won in Bydszgosz at next March’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria (Spain).

“It was not an easy race because Komon was very strong today. After I saw that I could not break away from Komon, I decided to save energy for the final sprint where I was confident to take the win. This win gives me the confidence that I can win my second world title,” said Ebuya who holds a 12:51.00 PB in the 5000 metres on the track.

With his second place 2008 IAAF World Cross Country silver medallist Leonard Komon improved the third place of two years ago when the Campaccio was held on a snowy day. “It was easier than two years ago when the course was covered by snow. I am planning to run in Seville on 16 January where I hope to take a re-match against Ebuya,” said Komon.

Third was Dennis Masai, the younger brother of 10,000 metres World Champion Linet Masai and 10,000 metres World bronze medallist Moses Masai. Dennis followed in the footsteps of their illustrious brothers by winning the World junior title in the 10,000 metres in 27:53.88 in Moncton last July.

Andrea Lalli finished sixth repeating the same placing of the European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira and and the Boclassic in Bolzano. “I am planning to focus on training and will not take part in other races until the Cinque Mulini which hosts the European Club Cross Country Championships on 6th February,” said Lalli.

Daniele Meucci, European bronze medallist in the 10,000 metres in Barcelona, finished eighth but admitted that his main goal is to peak for next summer’s IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
Italian best marathon runner Ruggero Pertile, fourth at the European Championships in Barcelona and winner at the Turin Marathon with the Italian fastest time of 2:10:58 on a rainy day, made his return to competitions with a solid tenth place in preparation for a spring marathon. 

The Campaccio Course will play host to the Italian Cross Country Club Championships on 27th February.

Women’s race

Veerle Dejaeghere went to the lead closely followed by Aniko Kalovics in the early stages during the first of three laps of the women’s race which set off at a conservative pace.

The race heated up in the second lap when Kalovics went to the front overtaking Dejaeghere. The Hungarian distance-running specialist, a former European Cross Country bronze medallist in Edinburgh in 2003, carved out a gap of 4 seconds over Dejaeghere who did not give up. Behind Ana Dias took third position overtaking Italian Nadia Ejjafini.

Kalovics increased her lead to six seconds at the bell and continued to open up her gap during the last lap.

Aniko Kalovics returned to her favourite Campaccio course on winning ways after a difficult period in December which followed an unlucky race at the Florence Marathon on a rainy and chilly day.

“I decided to take part in the Campaccio only after finishing fourth at the Boclassic in Bolzano which boosted my confidence after a difficult period. I have not prepared for cross country and I had only a specific training session. I am well known here in Italy and for this reason I was a bit nervous before the race because I felt that I had to win.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF 

Selected results from the Campaccio:

Men’s race (10 km):
1 Joseph Ebuya (Kenya) 28:15
2 Leonard Komon (Kenya) 28:19
3 Dennis Masai (Kenya) 28:51
4 Micah Kogo (Kenya) 28:53
5 Gideon Kipketer (Kenya) 29:21
6 Andrea Lalli (Italy) 29:29
7 Ahmed El Mazoury (Italy) 30:00
8 Daniele Meucci (Italy) 30:02
9 Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 30:07
10 Ruggero Pertile (Italy) 30:32

Women’s race (6 km):
1 Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 20:04
2 Veerle Dejaeghere (Belgium) 20:15
3 Ana Dias (Portugal) 20:28
4 Irina Sergeeva (Russia) 20:34
5 Nadia Ejjafini (Italy) 20:36
6 Janat Hanane (Morocco) 20:38
7 Federica Bevilacqua (Italy) 20:56
8 Emma Quaglia (Italy) 20:57
9 Laila Soufyiane (Italy) 20:59
10 Veronica Inglese (Italy) 21:06