Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack proved true to her word as she produced a superb performance to make it back-to-back victories in the IRIS Cross Cup in Brussels on Sunday as Isaac Kimeli, the recent European under-23 cross country champion, triumphed at home in the men’s race.
McCormack, a double SPAR European Cross Country champion, has vowed she is far from finished in bidding to lift that title again and evidence of her winning instincts were at the full once more.
Over 6km in this European Athletics Cross Country Permit race, McCormack won emphatically in 19:28 from Belgium’s Louise Carton, the home favourite, and Great Britain’s Laura Weightman, who both recorded times of 19:46, with the Netherlands’ Maureen Koster in fourth (20:01) and Britain’s Kate Hulls in fifth (20:03).
“Two consecutive victories in Brussels, this cross suits me,” said McCormack speaking to sport.be. “I had a bad day at the Euro Cross and I wanted to take over.”
This event was the fourth leg of the Cross Cup series and McCormack, who was fifth at the Euro Cross in Chia last weekend, took control on the first lap to power her way to victory with Carton battling to finish just ahead of Weightman.
It proved a good weekend for Carton, the winner of the under-23 race at last year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Hyères.
Her second place means she still leads the series with 85 points from fellow Belgians Sofie Van Accom (63) and Hanna Vandenbussche (56) and at 22, there was further reward for her progress when on Saturday she was named the Rising Star of the Year at the Belgian sports awards in Brussels.
The strength of the country’s distance runners was shown last weekend in Chia with Kimeli’s fine win and he earned another superb victory in this Cross Cup race when he won over 9km in 26:26 from teammates Jeroen D’Hoedt (26:28), Souffiane Bouchiki (26:38) and Simon Debognies (26:58) with Britain’s Jonathan Taylor in fifth (27:02).
But D’Hoedt remains top of the event with 66 points from Bouchiki (63) and Kimeli (60).
"It was fast today, a bit like Chia," said Kimeli. "I ran tactically because I was counting on my speed in the sprint.”
The next round of the Cross Cup is held in Hannut on 22 January.