Jip Vastenburg chose last year’s European Junior Championships to showcase her brilliance over 5,000m, but that seems just the start of what could be some career for the Dutch distance runner.
Vastenburg turned 20 only last month and in Palo Alto, in the USA, on Friday, she produced a stunning debut over 10,000m as she won the event at the Stanford Invitational in an impressive 32:11.90.
Early days indeed for 10,000m races this year and while she moves swiftly to the top of the European Athletics rankings, that performance would have put her eighth overall in 2013 based on a whole summer.
When she won the 5,000m crown in Rieti in 16:03.31, she spoke of the determination she had put into aiming for that title. Now moving up a distance she looks to be a major contender in Europe already and could play a big part at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August.
It was a European one-two in Palo Alto as Great Britain’s Elinor Kirk was second in 32:17.05, also a personal best, with Lani Marchant, of Canada, third in 32:29.61.
There was double reason for celebration for Portugal’s 20km walker Vera Santos at the 23rd Grande Premio de Rio Maior, part of European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meetings on Saturday.
Not only did she produce a home win on Saturday, her victory in 1:31:14 was inside the qualifying time for Zurich.
She won by eight seconds from Brazil’s Erica Sena with Portuguese teammate Ines Henriques third in 1:32:03.
Santos has been a consistent performer at the European Athletics Championships, finishing 17th in Munich in 2002, eighth in Gothenburg four years later and then sixth in Barcelona in 2010. This gentle progression could mean for a podium finish this summer in Switzerland.
In the men’s 20km event, Portugal had to settle for second and third in the shape of Joao Vieira, in 1:23:20, and Sergio Vieira in 1:24:15, as Brazil’s Caio Bonfirm won in 1:23:15.
Earning the mark needed for Zurich was so much on the mind of Switzerland’s Olympic triathlon champion Nicola Spirig in the marathon in the city on Sunday - and now she can rest easy after a fine performance.
Her target was to run inside the 2:44:00 qualifying time and she achieved that with over a minute to spare as she finished seventh in 2:42:52.
It was a race won by Germany’s Mona Stockhecke whose time of 2:34:03 puts her 10th on this year’s European Athletics rankings and, equally, makes her one of the contenders when the marathon returns to Zurich in five months time.
A different course but she has the flavour of winning in the city, a triumph achieved with a statement that does not happen too often among Europeans - as she beat a Bekele as Ethiopia’s Jida Bekele was second in 2:35:59 with Turkey’s Ummu Kiraz third in 2:36:45. Swiss champion Ursula Spielmann-Jeitziner was fifth in 2:41:55.
The men’s race had significance, too, in the build up to Zurich as Russia’s Stepan Kiselev, who was fifth in 2:11:28, moved to the top of the European Athletics rankings as Ethiopian Hayle Berhanu won in 2:10:39.
Dublin was the venue for the Great Ireland Run which saw a fine 10km win for Poland’s Iwona Lewandowska in 33:39 as she beat Sophie Duarte of France, the SPAR European Cross Country champion who was second in 33:48, with Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar third in 33:49.
Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton was fourth in 33:54 to land the national title with Mark Hanrahan taking the men’s as he was sixth in his race in 30:20 as Kenya’s World Cross Country champion Japheth Korir won in 29:12.
On a busy weekend in the full marathon, France’s Ahmed Ezzobayry was the top European in 10th in 2:15:34 as Ethiopian superstar Kenenisa Bekele made a sensational winning debut over the distance in the 38th Schneider Electric Paris Marathon in a course record of 2:05:03.
At the SuisseGas Milano Marathon, as Kenyan Francis Kiprop won the men’s race in 2:08:53, Ukraine’s Ihor Olefirenk was the top European, finishing fourth in 2:13:10, and in Thessaloniki, Greece’s Magdalini Gazea won the women’s race at the 9th Marathon Alexander The Great in 2:47:04.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Saturday - Podebrady 2014, Balkan Race Walking Championships (Balchik), International Match - race walking (CZE, BLR, FRA, GBR, IRL, ITA, LTU, POL, SWE, SVK, UKR).
Sunday - 9th Osmangazi Ancient City Road Run (Bursa), ABN AMRO Marathon Rotterdam, Devin Bratislava, Lodz Maraton Dbam o Zdrowie, Vienna City Marathon, Virgin London Marathon.