Fionnuala McCormack is one of the great stars of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, having won the senior individual title in 2011 and 2012, and she celebrated her ninth Irish cross country crown in Abbotstown on Sunday (25).
She won the senior women’s 8km on a muddy course in 28:41, a victory by almost two minutes from Mary Mulhare in 30:22. History was made yesterday afternoon as McCormack’s younger sister Una Britton was third in 30:32, the first time sisters have stood on the same podium in the senior’s women event.
McCormack, who will be making her 16th appearance at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon, a record for women competitors, where she will be joined by her sister next month, said: “It's a great day for our family and our club [Kilcoole AC].”
Gold and bronze medallists Fionnuala McCormack and Una Britton react after the national cross country
"It's a great day for our family, our club." pic.twitter.com/pggcHPl4vn
— Athletics Ireland (@irishathletics) November 24, 2019
The senior men’s title and selection for the championships went to Liam Brady won over 10km in 32:50. He credited his father, Kevin, for a stirring pre-race speech. “He said ‘I’ll have an ambulance waiting for you at the end. Thankfully I didn’t need it.'”
Judd and Connor book places on the British team for Lisbon
A year after running the last leg of Great Britain’s mixed relay team which finished fourth, Jessica Judd will be at this year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships competing in an individual capacity.
Judd won the senior women’s 8.1km by 10 seconds in 28:22 from Charlotte Arter with 2014 and 2015 European cross country silver medallist Kate Avery third in 28:40.
“That’s my best race ever and I am really happy with it,” assessed Judd, speaking to British Athletics.
In the senior women's race it was @jessjuddxx who crossed in first place and she was clearly delighted having secured her spot on the plane to Lisbon with victory in a wet and windy Liverpool this morning.#MuddyBrilliant pic.twitter.com/UmCjPGGW4V
— British Athletics (@BritAthletics) November 23, 2019
In the senior men’s 9.8km, Ben Connor took early control to win in 30:22 from Mahamed Mahamed, second in 30:27, with Alex Yee in third in 30:35, the latter two who will be contesting the U23 race in Lisbon.
“The Europeans was a big target for me,” said Connor, who raced over 5000m at the IAAF World Athletics Championships. “I came here to get the job done, I succeeded and the win is even sweeter.”
In the U20 races, Matt Willis won over 6.7km in 21:13 and Saskia Millard won over 4.4km in 15:32 to earn their selection for Lisbon.
Kimeli pips Bouchikhi in Roeselare en route to Lisbon
In an all-Belgian affair in the senior men’s race at the Structabo CrossCup in Roeselare on Sunday (24), Isaac Kimeli outsprinted Soufiane Bouchikhi for the victory with both athletes timed at 30:07 for the 10.1km distance.
Kimeli, who won individual silver behind Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg, was initially planning to contest the mixed relay in Lisbon next month but the world 5000m finalist has changed his plans will line up in the senior men’s race instead.
Kimeli has been one of the most illustrious runners in recent championship history, winning individual silver or gold medals at U20, U23 and senior level.
In the senior women’s 7km, Hanne Verbruggen took the victory in 24:38.
A top-six finisher at the last two editions of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, Elena Burkard continued her return to good form after injury by winning the senior women’s 6.6km at the Darmstadt Cross on Sunday in 23:29 ahead of Miriam Dattke in 23:48. Ilyas Yonis Osman won the senior men’s 9km in 28:15.
Testing out the course for next month, Andre Pereira and Susana Francisco were triumphant at the Portuguese qualification race in Lisbon on Sunday. Pereira won the men's 9.725km race in 31:39 ahead of Miguel Marques 31:39 with Francisco first in the women’s 7.725km in 28:42, a clear winner from Ercilia Machado, second in 30:17.
Piasecki impresses with a 2:25:29 victory in the Florence Marathon
Jessica Piasecki was preparing for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg twelve months ago but the Brit has now put herself in contention for a place on the British team at next month’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after a fantastic performance in the Florence Marathon.
The former European U23 cross country champion broke the tape in the Piazza Duomo in 2:25:29 to move to third on the British all-time list behind Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25) and Mara Yamauchi (2:23:12). Piasecki’s time is also the sixth fastest by a European in 2019.
But Piasecki is surely capable of improving this time on a faster course. The Florence Marathon course has some twists and inclines but the Brit still covered the second half in a sizeable negative split of 70:59.
Isn’t it great when a long term plan comes together.
Thanks to all who have helped along the way pic.twitter.com/ouzyIdab4c
— Jessica Piasecki (@JessCoulson90) November 24, 2019
This was Piasecki’s first completed marathon although she did contest the Frankfurt Marathon in 2015 in a bid to secure the Olympic qualifying time. Piasecki was on course to break the 2:30-barrier but was forced to drop out just after the 30km checkpoint due to a plantar fascia tear.
Piasecki won by a convincing distance from Ethiopia’s Dinknesh Mekash - the fastest female athlete on the start-line with a 2:23:12 PB - in 2:26:47 with Kenya’s Salina Jebet third in 2:30:28.