Selemon Barega on his way to winning the Cross de l'Acier (© Organisers)
World U20 champions Selemon Barega, 16, and Beyenu Degefa, 17, claimed back-to-back victories on French soil at the Cross de l’Acier in Leffrinckoucke on Sunday (27) on the road to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017.
Barega defeated a strong field in Allonnes last weekend which included Aweke Ayalew – the winner of the first leg of the IAAF Cross Country Permit series in Atapuerca – and the world U20 5000m champion claimed another victory in the senior men’s 9.3km in 26:12 to defeat teammate Biyazen Alehegn by one second with Kenya’s Peter Kiprotich third in 26:14.
Degefa, the world U20 3000m champion, was pushed harder than in Allonnes last weekend where she won by 22 seconds but she came up trumps in the senior women’s 6.86km in 21:48, four seconds ahead of teammate Fantu Worku with Ugandan steeplechaser Peruth Chemutai third in 22:01.
After narrowly missing out on a place in the Olympic steeplechase final in Rio, Chemutai, 17, will be one of Uganda’s leading medal hopes in Kampala next March.
Kirui defeats former world champion Korir in Eldoret
Ronald Kirui will still be eligible for the U20 category at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala next spring but the 18-year-old had the beating of the seniors at the Tuskys Wareng Cross Country in Eldoret on Sunday.
Kirui, who finished sixth over 10,000m at the World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz this summer, won the senior men’s race in 28:03 ahead of Moses Mukono (28:07) and Timothy Rono (28:08) with 2013 world cross-country champion Japheth Korir fourth.
World 5000m finalist Irene Cheptai won the women’s senior race in 31:16 ahead of sub-67-minute half marathon runner Gladys Chesire (31:41) with Yasemin Can from Turkey third.
Nicholas Kimeli and Liliat Kasait, who moves into the senior ranks in 2017, shared the spoils in the junior races.
Butchart looking strong ahead of European Cross
Not since 2006 has a Briton claimed the men’s senior title at the European Cross Country Championships but Olympic 5000m sixth placer Andrew Butchart could follow in Mo Farah’s footsteps in Chia, Italy in two weeks’ time.
On a fast and firm course which played to the track specialist's advantage, Butchart claimed victory in the senior men’s 9.8km at the Liverpool Cross Challenge on Saturday (26) in 28:37 to defeat in-form Callum Hawkins by eight seconds with Andy Vernon third in 29:01.
Gemma Steel, the 2014 European cross-country champion, returned to form after illness and injury to win the senior women's 8.1km in 27:11 to defeat Charlotte Arter by one second. Steel will be looking to claim her fourth individual medal in Chia next month.
At the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Kingston on Saturday, Ross Proudfoot retained his title in the senior men’s 10km in 29:53 while Sarah Gollish easily won the women’s senior 10km in 33:54.
Moen and Schlumpf defeat continental fields in Tilburg
Sondre Nordstad Moen has won individual medals at junior and under-23 level at the European Cross Country Championships and the 25-year-old could claim his first senior medal in Chia next month.
Moen claimed victory in the senior men’s 10km at the Warandeloop in Tilburg on Sunday in 29:58 ahead of Denmark’s Abdi Hakin Ulad (29:00) and Sweden’s Napoleon Solomon (30:01).
In the women’s senior 8km, Olympic steeplechase finalist Fabienne Schlumpf from Switzerland won in 27:16 by three seconds ahead of Germany’s Anna Gehring (27:19) and Elizeba Cherono third on home soil in 27:24.
At the CrossCup van West-Vlaanderen in Roeselare, European under-23 cross-country champion Louise Carton won the senior women’s 6.25km in 21:03 ahead of Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel in 21:23 while Isaac Kimeli won the men’s 9.4km in 28:09 by two seconds from Jeroen D’Hoedt.
Carton is still eligible to defend her under-23 title in Chia next month but the Belgian has said she will contest the senior race instead.
Steven Mills for the IAAF