European Cup 10000m: preview

The Enka Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey is set for a fantastic 12th edition of the European Cup 10000m this Saturday, with 34 men and 29 women from 21 countries lined up to compete.

The head-to-head dual in the women's race is expected to draw in the crowds, as World Cross Country and Half-marathon Champion Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands, meets home favourite, silver medal winner from Osaka and former 5,000m World record holder Elvan Abeylegesse.

Kiplagat will run her first 10,000m track race since the European Championships in Gothenburg 2006. Her national record from the 2003 World Championships is 30:12.53 and this year she won races in San Juan and Abu Dhabi.  Her aim will be to achieve the Olympic A qualifying standard of 31:45 as she plans to contest the distance in Beijing. However Abeylegesse holds the Turkish record of 30:21.67 from the 2006 European Cup 10000m in Antalya, and is sure to be tough competition for the Dutch star.

There could also be a surprise attack from the rest of the women's field, which includes top quality athletes like Belgian long distance runner Nathalie de Vos (11th in Osaka), Kiplagat's cousin Hilda Kibet who will be running to achieve Olympic standard, Volha Kravtsova of Belarus, strong Hungarians Aniko Kalovics and Krisztina Papp, and a high quality trio from Portugal headed by former Olympic Champion, Fernanda Ribeiro.

The Men's race does not have the same international depth, but with an opportunity for Olympic qualification up-for-grabs, it is still likely to be a dramatic race between the top Portuguese and Spanish contenders, including Europe's fastest finisher at the World Cross Country Championships, Spain's Juan Carlos de la Ossa.