Excellent fields to challenge for honours at the European 10,000m Cup

Eilish McColgan
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Great Ireland's Eilish McColgan and reigning champion Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel are among the leading entrants in the women's race at the European 10,000m Cup 

The spectators who turned up in their vast numbers to the Parliament Hill Athletics Track last year were treated to two contrasting but nonetheless compelling races and another exciting programme is anticipated at the European 10,000m Cup on Saturday (6) evening.

The event is once again held in conjunction with the Night of the 10,000m PBs which is quickly becoming an institution in distance running circles in the United Kingdom despite its relatively recent introduction to the calendar six years ago.

Last year was the first time the European 10,000m Cup was staged as part of the Night of the 10,000m PBs programme and the joining of forces proved such a success that British Athletics and European Athletics signed a contract extension in the autumn, keeping the event in north-west London until 2020.

“This is a new format for athletics,” said Germany’s Richard Ringer after winning the men’s race last year in 27:36.52. “It’s a very small track but it was one of the best races.”

In-form Crippa poised to challenge for the men’s title 

Ringer won’t be defending his title, preferring to focus on chasing the 5000m qualifying standard for the World Championships in Lausanne on Friday (5) evening and with reigning European champion Mourad Amdouni from France another absentee due to a hamstring injury, this could allow one of the emerging names of European distance running to take a significant victory.

Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa finished third last year on his debut in 27:44.21 - a mark which bettered former world 10,000m silver medallist Francesco Panetta’s long-standing Italian U23 record. He is yet to contest a 10,000m in 2019 but Crippa has set lifetime bests at 1500m (3:37.81) and 5000m (13:09.52) already this summer and if conditions allow, the IAAF World Championships qualifying time of 27:40 might not be an insuperable task.

Crippa will face a heady mix of track specialists and marathon runners who are stepping down in distance, including his experienced teammate Daniele Meucci. Meucci won the European marathon title in 2014 but he is also a stalwart of the European 10,000m Cup, making his debut in 2006 before winning the individual title in Mersin a decade later.

Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen has also made a name for himself with some fine exploits on the roads in recent seasons including victory in the Fukuoka Marathon in 2017 in 2:05:48. His 10,000m PB is fairly modest in comparison at 28:15.12 but Moen can surely revise that mark if he has recovered sufficiently from the illnesses and injuries which have dogged him since setting that since-beaten European marathon record two years ago.

The men’s ‘A’ race concludes the programme at 9:30 local time and it also features the mercurial Turkish duo of Ali Kaya and Aras Kaya. The former has been out of form since winning a silver medal over this distance at the 2016 European Championships but the 25-year-old ran his fastest 10,000m in four years with 27:53.39 in Stockholm in May.

The Spanish team is headed by national champion Antonio Abadia, who won the individual title at the European 10,000m Cup in Minsk two years ago and was also part of Spain's gold medal-winning team in London last year. European sixth-placer Soufiane Bouchikhi from Belgium is another entrant with a lifetime best inside the 28 minute-mark. 

Chemtai Salpeter targeting back-to-back titles in the women’s race 

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter took an assured victory at the European 10,000m Cup last year and she has only developed in stature since that breakthrough win last year.

Chemtai Salpeter went on to become Israel’s first ever European track champion over the same distance in Berlin but the 30-year-old has particularly excelled on the roads with victories in the Florence Marathon in 2:24:17 and the Prague Marathon in 2:19:46 - the fastest time by a European in more than a decade.

Her foremost rival could be Great Britain’s Eilish McColgan who approaches this race from an entirely different path. Her early season excursion over the distance in Stanford did not go according to plan as she dropped out in the closing stages but she has since revised her lifetime bests at 1500m (4:00.97) and 5000m (14:47.94).

McColgan has already handsomely surpassed the World Championships qualifying standard at two distances in 2019 and the 10,000m mark of 31:50 should be comfortably within her capabilities as well. Having surpassed her mother Liz’s lifetime bests at 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, it might not stretch the bounds of credulity to suggest Eilish could also get close to the 1991 world champion’s 10,000m lifetime best of 30:57.07.

Chemtai Salpeter will start as the favourite, although there will be a handful of athletes on the start-line with faster lifetime bests including the veteran Portuguese trio of Sara Moreira (31:12.93), Ana Dulce Felix (31:19.03) and Jessica Augusto (31:19.15) - all of whom have major European titles to their credit over a range of distances and surfaces.

On the return from maternity leave, Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack (31:29.22) will contest her first 10,000m since finishing fourth at the 2016 European Championships while Switzerland’s Fabienne Schlumpf, who almost ended Yasemin Can’s reign at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg last December, makes her track debut at the distance.

The event will be live streamed here.