It is just under three months until Konstanze Klosterhalfen turns 20 and it looks like she is ready to bow out from the junior scene in style.
In a qualifying race for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, German Klosterhalfen, the defending European junior champion, triumphed by 28 seconds in 14:06 over Alina Reh in the 4km at Darmstadt on Sunday.
Her victory in this European Athletics Cross Country Permit race will send out strong signals to her rivals for Chia on 11 December, a year on from Klosterhalfen spearheading a brilliant day for Germany in Hyères when she won gold and her nation took the team title.
Reh was third that day, and she too is in fine form, with another consistent run in this under-20 race.
Janik Seelhofer endorsed his credentials for Chia by winning the junior boys 6.2km race in 21:19 as Caterina Granz took the women’s senior (23:31) title at 6.6km from Julia Bleasdale (23:40), the latter competing for the first time since changing nationalities from Great Britain to Germany.
In the men’s senior race over 9.1km, the leading German was Simon Boch (28:45) in fifth as Kenyan Daniel Kemoi finished first (27:29).
On a day of two European Athletics Cross Country Permit races, the Campo a Traves Internacional de Soria on Sunday saw a great performance from Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui.
A middle-distance runner by trade, Ennaoui, 21, put down her own marker for the under-23 event in Chia by taking third at 8km (27:51) behind Kenyan Alice Aprot (26:18), who was fourth in the Olympic 10,000m, and Uganda’s Juliet Chekwel (27:30).
In the past three years, Ennaoui has won silver medals over 1500m at both the European Athletics Junior Championships (2013) and U23 Championships (2015) and this summer she was seventh at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam and 10th at the Olympics in Rio.
While the Euro Cross under-23 will be one of the toughest races in Chia, with Belgium’s defending champion Louise Carton among the favourites, Ennaoui has done her own chances no harm.
In the men’s 10km race in Soria, Sergio Sanchez (29:52) won the domestic ‘home’ battle with fellow Spaniard Ilias Fifa (30:09) as they were fourth and fifth respectively as Uganda Timothy Toroitich (29:10) won here for the third time in a row.
All eyes might be on Sardinia next month but in a year’s time, the Euro Cross will be in Samorin and on Saturday, Slovakia used the site of the event for their national cross country championships.
The competiton was a final qualifier for Chia and on a day of more than 330 runners, Peter Durec ran superbly to defend his men’s title as he won over 10km in 31:43 from Jozef Urban (32:09) and Radovan Tomecek (32:55).
Lucia Janeckova, now 21, has run three times in the junior Euro Cross races and judging by her form, she could be one to watch in the under-23 event after she won the senior 8km race in Samorin in 30:17 ahead of Sona Vnencakova (30:20) and Petra Fasungova (30:28).
Jozef Repcik, the national 800m and 1000m record-holder, won the 4km (12:45) and Lucia Vlcakova (15:57) took the women’s event, while the national junior titles went to Matus Verbovsky (20:37) at 6km and Eva Slancikova (15:39) at 4km.
A golf course in Motol, a part of Prague, staged the Czech Cross Country Championships where Jiri Homolac won by 23 seconds in the 10km race in 32:15 as he beat Jakub Zemanik (32:38) and Jan Janu (33:02) with the women’s title achieved by a greater margin.
— Libor Varhaník (@LiborVarhanik) November 20, 2016
Over 6km, Simona Vrzalova (21:18) finished ahead of Eva Vrabcova (21:44) and Eva Krchova (21:56) with Michal Smahel (12:57) taking the milers’ race at 4km and the under-20 champions being Viktor Sinagl (19:56) at 6km and Adela Civinova (15:24) at 4km.
And at the Croatian Cross Country Championships in Karlovac, Antun Rudolf Pavelic (34:48, at 10km) and Matea Parlov (31:09, at 8km) triumphed to show their form with Chia so close.