Vernon and Bouchikhi to go head-to-head in Hannut

Vernon rules in Hannut
European Athletics

Great Britian's Andy Vernon will defend his title at the Easykit Cross Cup in Hannut

Former SPAR European cross country bronze medallist Andy Vernon will defend his title in the men’s race at the 75th edition of the Easykit Cross Cup in Hannut, a European Athletics Cross Country Permit event, on Sunday (21).

Vernon defeated home favourite Soufiane Bouchikhi by 13 seconds in last year’s race but Bouchikhi might fancy his chances against the reigning champion on home soil this weekend.

Bouchikhi has been in excellent form on this terrain this winter, most recently finishing an excellent fourth against some top level opposition at the Great Edinburgh XCountry on Saturday, finishing five places - and 37 seconds - ahead of the Brit.

The 27-year-old finished fifth at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Slovakia last month and has also taken a string of notable domestic wins across November and December.

Other notable entrants include former European U23 cross country champion Isaac Kimeli, European U23 5000m silver medallist Simon Debognies and marathon specialist Koen Naert, who finished eighth in the New York Marathon in November.

Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu will defend her title in the women’s race. Her main rivals include Romania’s Roxana Barca and Poland’s Katarina Rutkowska. Top Belgian runner Louise Carton will not compete due to a foot injury.