In front of their home crowd in Kastamonu on Sunday, Turkish teams were the dominant force once again at the 53rd European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country.
For the second year in a row, Turkey won three of the four team gold medals.
Uskudar Belediye retained the women’s senior title, while in the under-20 races, the host nation celebrated a one-two as Kocaeli Darıca Bel. Egitim successfully defended their men’s gold as they beat Fenerbahce Sport Club and in the women’s, Bursa Buyuksehir Belediye SK beat Fenerbahce.
But they missed out on a clean sweep of team golds as France’s Ales Cevennes Athletisme won the men’s senior event from Istanbul BBSK.
Men’s senior (10km)
It may not have been enough to carry his side to team glory, but Turkey’s Bekir Karayel, from Istanbul BBSK, was the individual hero as he beat the defending champion Othmane El Goumri, of Morocco.
His margin of victory was 24 seconds, after an impressive performance saw him triumph in 32:33 from El Goumri.
With the top four runners counting for points in the team event, El Goumri had the support he needed as Ales Cevennes won the men’s race.
Frenchman Romain Courcieres was third (33:01) and with teammates El Hassane Ben Lkhainouch (33:16) in fifth and Freddy Guimard (33:24) in seventh, they combined for a total of 17 points, beating Istanbul by 13 points with Norway’s IK Tjalve, where Asbjorn Ellefsen Persen was sixth (33:20), in third with 42.
Women’s senior (6km)
Twelve months on from being crowned the individual champion in Guadalajara, Irene Cheptai retained that title as her club Uskudar Belediye won the team crown for the fifth time in the last eight stagings of this European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country.
And it was so much a repeat of last year’s race, as once more Cheptai was followed home in second by her teammate Ozlem Kaya, of Turkey.
In Spain in 2015, the gap was only three seconds (20:43 to 20:46) but this time, in a slower race, Cheptai did not have to worry about being caught as she won by 32 seconds from Kaya in 21:13 with Spain’s Trihas Gebre (21:52) in third.
Uskudar took the team gold as Turkey’s Demet Dinc (22:06) was fourth and Alemitu Bekele (22:16) was sixth, banking them, like the men’s winners, 13 points from Gebre-led Bilbao Atletismo, of Spain, with 29 and Portugal’s Sport Lisboa e Benfica, with 36, where their first runner home was Sara Ribeiro in fifth (22:15).
Men’s Under-20 (6km)
Taking their place on the podium, the athletes from Kocaeli Darıca made it a hat-trick of golds in this event and showed how important for the team it is that everyone runs well.
Darıca did not have anyone in the top two in the individual race, but their performances were enough to win the team title with 20 points from Fenerbahce with 28 and Spain’s Playas de Castellon with 49.
And it was Castellon who provided the race winner as Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo triumphed in 19:37 from Turkish pair Ferhat Bozkurt (19:39), running for Fenerbahce, and Nurkan Dagtekin (19:40), running for Darıca.
Dagtekin was supported by Abdullah Yorulmaz (19:41) in fourth, Ramazan Karagoz (20:18), the defending champion, in sixth and Omer Gunen (20:19) in seventh to win the team crown.
Women’s Under-20 (4km)
Once more Denmark's Anna-Emilie Moller showed what a distance-running talent she is by winning in 14:27 as her team, Blovstroed Loeverne, took bronze with 44 points behind Turkish sides Bursa Buyuksehir, who won with 32 and Fenerbahce, on 39.
Moller now has this title to add to her 5000m silver and 3000m bronze from last summer’s European Athletics Junior Championships in Eskilstuna.
As Moller won (14:27), Turkey’s Emine Akbingol was second (14:54) for Fenerbahce, the defending team champions, with Spain’s Lucia Rodriguez (15:00) third, running for Playas de Castellon, who finished fourth overall with 49 points.
But just as in the men’s under-20, Turkey took gold from a Bursa team who combined brilliantly and this time did not even have a runner in the top four.
Nuran Satilmis (15:20) was fifth, Gulnaz Uskun (15:33) was eighth, Sumeyye Erol (15:50), who had won last year in Guadalajara, was ninth and Nazan Satilmis (15:55) was 10th.