Fionnuala McCormack proved that persistence does pay off as she won the Iris Lotto CrossCup in Brussels on Sunday.
A week after finishing fourth, and taking team bronze, at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Hyères, Ireland’s McCormack triumphed by seven seconds.
And it was very much a satisfying victory because in the past three years she has finished second (2012) and third twice (2013 and 2014) in the Belgian capital and now finally has this moment to savour.
Over a 6km course in this European Athletics Cross Country Permit race, McCormack won in 20:07 from the Netherlands’ Maureen Koster with Ethiopian Derartu Debela Delesa (20:23) in third.
There were big hopes for Belgium’s newly crowned European under-23 cross country champion, Louise Carton, but she was fourth (20:27), after suffering with a slight illness.
"I really wanted to win in Brussels where I had never managed it," said McCormack.
The double European champion showed her intent from the start, pulling away and then it became a group of four, with Delesa, Koster and Carton.
Delesa led but by the start of the last lap, it was Britton and Koster in charge, with the Irishwoman taking control to secure a fine win.
Belgium’s Veerle Dejaeghere (20.40) was fifth followed by Great Britain’s Louise Small (20.48).
Carton maintains her position leading the standings in the CrossCup ahead of the fifth round in Hannut next month but she said: "I was a little sick during the night, without knowing what I had. My week after my European title was pretty heavy and full of emotion."
Ethiopian Dame Tasama won the men’s race over 10.5km in 32:19 from Kenyan Patrick Ereng (32:44) with Belgium’s Jeroen D’Hoedt in third (32:47), having finished 14th at the last CrossCup in Roeselare in November. His teammate Isaac Kimeli was seventh (33:08), while Tarik Moukrime (34:09), continuing his return from cancer, was 22nd.
D'Hoedt was happy and said: "I was left with the juice to finish in style in third place. I have worked hard in recent weeks to return to that level and I know I still have room (for more). At Roeselare, I had some fears about my ankle ligaments injured last summer. Everything seems back to normal now."