Gebre and McCormack impress in Atapuerca with Šamorín approaching

Gebre and McCormack impress in Atapuerca with Samorin approaching
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Spain's Trihas Gebre was the leading European finisher at the Cross de Atapuerca on Sunday ahead of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships

It is that time of year when every performance has an indicator towards the final major athletics event of 2017 – the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Slovakia on 10 December.

That was surely the case on Sunday as Spain’s Trihas Gebre and Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack competed at the Cross de Atapuerca and they would have been encouraged by their performances less than a month away from the chance of winning continental gold in the senior women’s race.

In the 8km race won by Ethiopia's Senbere Teferi in 25:21, Gebre was the leading European finisher in fourth in 25:50 with McCormack fifth in 26:13.

McCormack has an excellent record at the European Cross Country Championships, having won the individual title in Velenje in 2011 and in Budapest twelve months later. Last year in Chia, she finished fifth and two places ahead of Gebre.

In Chia, it was Turkey’s Yasemin Can who prevailed in the senior women’s race and she too will be happy with her early season preparations, winning the 15km which was staged alongside the Istanbul Marathon on Sunday in 48:59.

It has been another memorable year for Can who won double gold, in the 5000m and 10,000m at the European U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz in July, and she will be looking to retain her title in Samorin.

In the senior men’s 9km, Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem was the top European finisher in 13th (25:41), a spot ahead of teammate and European U23 10,000m champion Carlos Mayo (25:43). Ethiopia’s Getaneh Molla claimed the title in 24:45.

Sclabas impresses in Regensdorf

At the Wisacher Cross in Regensdorf, Jonas Raess and Martina Tresch were impressive winners in an event which doubled up as a qualifying race ahead of the European Cross Country Championships.

Raess won over 8km and Tresch triumphed at 6km but their big medal prospect in Samorin will be Delia Sclabas. The 17-year-old is the reigning European U20 3000m champion and she took a commanding victory in the junior 4km.

The next stop for places on the Italian team for Samorin was Sgonico and the 43rd Carsolina Cross where Lorenzo Dini (27:20) beat Samuele Dini (27:30) in the senior men’s 9km while Valeria Roffino won women’s 7km in 25:11.

On Saturday, Jessica Judd scored a fine win over 5.9km at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Milton Keynes, defeating former European cross country champion Gemma Steel. There was an upset in the senior men’s race with 20-year-old Mahamed Mahamed defeating Sam Stabler and Andy Vernon.

Winning return for Muir on the mud

It has been quite a year for Laura Muir, the double gold medallist from the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March.

And she has moved seamlessly from the track to the terrain – if only briefly – as she took her fourth Scottish short course cross-country title over 4km in five years on Saturday in Kirkcaldy, winning by almost a minute in 12:15.

It has been a busy period for veterinary student Muir, who was competing for the first time since the 5000m at the IAAF World Championships in London.

She is now planning for track glory in 2018 when she will be looking to challenge for medals on the track at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships but not before an indoor campaign culminating with the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham. 

She told The Scotsman: “I keep plugging away. I felt in good shape here. It’s nice to win it again. And now the indoor season is the next big focus because I want to perform well there.”