In cold conditions with the temperature hovering around freezing, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega relied on his sprint finish in the senior men’s race at the Cross Internacional de Venta de Banos on Sunday (17) while Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet made an early but decisive break in her bid for victory in the senior women’s race.
Kenya’s Alice Aprot has showed her ascendency on the Spanish cross-country circuit in recent weeks with dominant wins in Soria and Alcobendas – winning by 48 and 34 seconds respectively – but the world cross-country silver medallist couldn’t respond when the Olympic steeplechase champion hit the front on the second lap.
Jebet was away and clear by the third kilometre and opened up a yawning gap on her pursuers in the second half of the senior women’s 7.575km. Jebet crossed the finish-line in 25:45 with Aprot – accustomed to winning by such a margin this season – ceding more than 45 seconds on the winner.
The positions remained unchanged from the early stages and Aprot was in no danger of losing her runner-up spot. Spain’s Trihas Gebre was an isolated third in 26:52, one place ahead of Portuguese veteran and former winner Ines Monteiro in 27:24.
The only disappointing performance at a major event in Selemon Barega’s young career thus far was a fifth-place finish in the U20 race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships this March but the Ethiopian outsprinted Jacob Kiplimo – the athlete who memorably defeated all comers on home soil in Kampala earlier this season – in the senior men’s 10.575km.
Barega and Kiplimo both raised their arms in celebration as they crossed the finish-line in Venta de Banos but Barega – the world U18 3000m champion and world U20 5000m champion – was narrowly given the verdict over Kiplimo. They were both timed at 31:09 with Britain’s Nick Goolab third, just ahead of European 5000m champion Ilias Fifa from Spain.
Yemataw defeats Haileselassie in Yecla
World and Olympic 5000m finalist Birhanu Yemataw from Bahrain ran out a comfortable winner ahead of defending champion and steeplechaser Yemane Haileselassie from Eritrea at the Cross Nacional Fiestas de la Virgen in Yecla on Sunday.
Yemataw, 21, won the senior men’s 10km in 28:35 by eight seconds ahead of Haileselassie with 2014 European cross-country champion Polat Kemboi Arikan from Turkey third in 28:47.
Ayad Lamdassem was the top Spanish finisher in fourth in 29:09 with Adel Mechaal – who won a silver medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Samorin last weekend, defeating Arikan and Lamdassem in the process – a distant fifth in 29:32.
In the senior women’s 8km, Nuria Lugueros claimed victory on home soil in 26:52 by 15 seconds ahead of Burundi’s Cavaline Nahimana.
Steven Mills for the IAAF