Poland’s Anna Gosk and Germany’s Samuel Fitwi won the senior races at the Structabo Cross Cup in Hannut, one of three European Athletics Cross Country Permit events which were held on Sunday (19) afternoon.
In the women’s race, reigning champion Gosk immediately took charge of the race and was not seriously challenged by any of her competitors. Meanwhile, Fitwi won after a hard-fought battle with former winners Andy Vernon and local athlete Soufiane Bouchikhi.
Gosk committed from the gun and led from the very first lap of the 6.5km race, winning the title in 23:27. The 29-year-old Pole easily extended her lead on Roxana Barca from Romania who held on for the runner-up spot in 23:36, despite a chasing group which included Jasmijn Bakker and Sofie Van Accom closing in on her in the final lap of the race. It was the Belgian-based Brit Stephanie Barnes who would eventually take the third spot, yet almost 15 seconds behind Gosk who won for the second year in a row in Hannut.
“I love racing here and it is great to finally run a good cross country race after I ran a marathon at the end of October. That is also why I was not competing at the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon,” said Gosk, who clocked 2:34:57 on her marathon debut in Frankfurt last October.
“I hope to run some more cross country races before preparing another marathon as I would love to run the distance at the Olympics in Tokyo,” she added.
The men’s 9.5km in Hannut was by contrast a three-way battle. Vernon, who is preparing for the London Marathon in April, took control of the race after a rather slow first lap and only Fitwi and Bouchikhi managed to follow his blistering pace.
Bouchikhi, however, found another gear in the last two laps to shake off Vernon. Fitwi still looked very relaxed and ready to kick on the final lap. The German did not disappoint as he flew towards the finish line in great style to win in 30:07. Vernon rallied in the closing stages to overhaul Bouchikhi who had to settle for third, 30:12 to 30:13.
“Belgian cross country races never disappoint,” said Fitwi. “I very much loved the fact that both Andy and Soufiane took control of the race. I felt quite strong today and went all-in during the final lap. I might run some more cross country races or a half marathon, before targeting the track. I very much hope to be part of the German team at the European Championships in Paris."
Full results here.
Stewartova successfully defends her title in Rovereto; Italian 1-2-3 in senior men's race
There was another back-to-back winner at the Cross della Vallagarina in Rovereto as Moira Stewartova from the Czech Republic became the first female athlete to defend her title in this race since Wilma Rusman in 1985.
Stewartova covered the 5.3km course on the outskirts of Rovereto in 18:27 ahead of Kenya’s Lenah Jerotich in 18:33 with Silvia Oggioni third in 18:46.
There was a men’s winner in Rovereto for the first time since Giuliano Battocletti in 2007. Prospective pre-race favourite Nekagenet Crippa was a non-finisher but there was still an Italian clean sweep in the 43rd edition of this race.
The undulating lapped course which is bordered by grapevines played to the advantage of the mountain running specialists with Cesare Maestri (28:01) and Francesco Puppi (28:06) finishing first and second with Abdoullah Bamoussa a clear third in 28:20 ahead of Czech Republic’s Jachym Kovar in 28:33.
Maestri’s win was made all the more impressive as he has not only been battling illness this week but he also had two wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday.
Full results here.
At the Abdijcross in Kerkrade, Great Britain's Mahamed Mahamed won the senior men's 10.5km in 33:07 ahead of Dutch internationals Noah Schutte (33:11), Jesper van der Wielen (33:16) and Michel Butter (33:20) while Bo Ummels won a largely domestic senior women's 7.4km in 26:32 ahead of Diana van Es in 26:41.
Full results here.