The likely strength of the German U23 teams at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samorin in two weeks’ time was shown to the full in Darmstadt on Sunday, not least when Alina Reh caused a surprise by beating Konstanze Klosterhalfen in a thrilling women’s race.
Both now 20, Klosterhalfen has been the star of the show at the last two continental showcases by taking double U20 gold, with Reh finishing fourth in Chia last year and third in 2015, when they combined to help Germany to take the team gold medals.
This could be the case again in Slovakia on 10 December as the pair compete in the U23 race in the next stage of their impressive athletics development.
Many might have thought it would be Klosterhalfen automatically leading the way for Germany but Reh showed she means business at this Darmstadt Cross – a European Athletics Cross Country Permit Meeting – by eventually breaking away from her compatriot to win over 6.6km by two seconds, 21:23 to 21:25.
Klosterhalfen had led as they entered the last lap but with a third of it left, Reh had the greater speed to go past her to secure victory.
“It's nice to be the first to cross the finish line, but we worked well together and had a great race, both of us enjoyed it,” reflected Reh.
The pair will be joined by Anna Gehring, who was 21 earlier this month. Twelve months ago, in Chia, Gehring won individual and team silver medals in the U23 race.
She was just three seconds away from gold then and on Sunday she booked her place in this year’s German team when finishing in fourth in Darmstadt in 23:05, with Kenya’s Betty Chepkwony third in 22:45.
However, equally important, was the fact Gehring had no concerns after recent injury woes. “The step was right, the foot held, I can train again without pain.”
Beim Darmstadt-Cross boten gestern die beiden Ausnahme-Läuferinnen Alina Reh und Konstanze Klosterhalfen ein... https://t.co/iNdzEHT0QI
— RUNNER'S WORLD (@runnersworldde) 27 November 2017
Amanal Petros was the SPAR European Cross Country Championships U23 bronze medallist in Hyeres in 2015, and fourth last year, and he prepared for his bid for a final tilt at the title with a fine win over 9km in Darmstadt, at a time when his preparation was rather different to many others counting down to the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
Petros has just finished his army basic training and has not been able to do his normal athletics work but this victory in 27:24, winning by three seconds from Ethiopia’s Abdi Uya (27:showed he is ready for Samorin.
Miriam Dattke will be a big German hope in the women’s U20 in Samorin after winning here in 14:29 over the 4.2km course as lyas Yonis Osman won the men’s U20 6.6km race in 19:53.
Alcobendas in the suburbs of the Spanish capital of Madrid was the setting for another of the weekend’s European Athletics Cross Country Permit Meeting.
At the 35th edition of the Cross Internacional de la Constitucion, Kenya’s 2017 world cross country championships silver medallist Alice Aprot won the women’s race over 8.04km in 27:20 with Spain’s Trihas Gebre was second in 27:54 with teammate Ana Lozano in third in 28:24.
Eritrea’s Aron Kifle took the men’s race over 10.06km in 29:22 from Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich, second in 29:57but Spain’s Adel Mechaal, the runner-up in Hyeres, was a good third in 30:11.
Across Europe, so many thoughts were on Samorin as places were being sought in the team and what a day it proved to be for Great Britain’s Emelia Gorecka in Liverpool on Saturday.
Happy & healthy is always the aim... But today was just a little bit insane. Unconditional ♥️ & thank you's to my team, today we earnt my first Great Britain vest in (almost) 3years.
Respect & congratulations to the Judd-meister for a phenomenal run(as always)⭐ @jessjuddxx pic.twitter.com/fo9XyiNsvE
— Emelia Górecka (@emeliagorecka) 25 November 2017
Gorecka, now 23, was twice a SPAR European Cross Country Championships U20 champion, and is now aiming for more success after making her return from injury.
She won the 8km women’s race at the British Athletics Cross Challenge, which act as the British trials, in 27:59 as she beat Jess Judd by seven seconds with former European cross country champion Gemma Steel third in 28:16.
Ben Connor was the surprise men’s winner in 30:18 from Alex Teuten, who was two seconds in arrears.
It was final qualification for the Turkish team at the second round of the Super League in Istanbul with 2016 Balkan champion Ramazan Ozdemir making his mark over 10km in third palce in 30:35 as Kenyan Bernard Cheruiyot won in 29:53.
In the women’s race over 6km, Turkey took second and third through Ozlem Kaya in 20:09 and Esma Aydemir in 20:18 respectively as Ethiopia’s Meseret Asefa won in 19:46.
Czech Republic’s Simona Vrzalova carried on her fine form after a good win at the recent European Athletics Cross Country Permit Meeting in Salzburg ad made a successful defence of her national cross country title in Dlouhonovice as she won the 8km race in 29:55, while Jakub Zemanik won the men’s 10km crown in 33:07.
It was also the final qualification race for Italian team at the Cross Valmusone in Osimo, with Simone Colombini winning the men’s 10km race in 30:20 and Valeria Roffino first in the women’s 7km in 23:52.