The 2019-20 World Athletics Cross Country Permit season ends on Sunday (2) with the 43rd edition of the Almond Blossom Cross Country in Albufeira, Portugal.
Among the favourites at this annual Algarve classic will be Kenya’s Richard Yator Kimunyan, the U20 bronze medallist at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships and more recently, the 2019 All-African Games 5000m bronze medallist. Another prospect in the men’s race is Eritrean Yemane Haileselassie, who was ninth at the World Cross Country Championships in 2017 and the silver medallist in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2016 World U20 Championships.
As per tradition, the race will feature a strong Portuguese presence led by the Sporting CP club team, the 2018 European Cross Country Club Cup champion. That’s headed by Rui Teixeira, the national cross country champion the last two years, and their international runners António Silva, Licínio Pimentel, Eduardo Mbengani and Miguel Marques.
Rui Pinto, who was third at this year’s Portuguese road race championship, also has the capability to run with the leaders and spring a surprise.
In the women’s race, Kenyan Lydia Jeruto Lagat, who was 10th in the U20 race at last year World Cross Country Championships, is the most prominent challenger from abroad. The 19-year-old has shown strong potential and range, taking silver in the 800m at the World U18 Championships in 2017.
Salomé Rocha, the 2020 national road race champion, will carry Portuguese hopes. Rocha, who was eighth at the London Marathon last year, won this race in 2016 and 2018. A third victory on Sunday would move her into a tie with compatriot Aurora Cunha for the most Almond Blossom wins.
Others expected in the hunt are Catarina Ribeiro, third at the national road race championships and runner-up at last year’s national cross country championships, and Eritrean Rahel Daniel, who was 10th in the 1500m at last year’s All Africa Games. Daniel, who turned 18 in November, was also a 3000m and 5000m finalist at the 2019 African U20 Championships.
Fans can watch a live stream of the event on the Algarve Athletics Association website, aaalgarve.org, starting at 11:00 local time.
António Manuel Fernandes for World Athletics