When Tilburg stages the SPAR European Cross Country Championships on 9 December, Frenchman Jimmy Gressier will be determined for a repeat performance from 12 months ago in Samorin as he looks to successfully defend his U23 crown.
And as he prepares for the showcase event of the continental cross country season, Gressier produced a superb performance to finish third on home soil against a top quality international field at the Cross le Maine Libre in Allonnes on Sunday (18).
Gressier showed real grit and determination as he won the European U23 cross country title by two seconds from fellow Frenchman Hugo Hay by two seconds on a memorable day for the country as they also took team gold.
Three weeks before he lines up in the Beekse Bergen Safari Resort, Gressier was a competitive third in the senior men’s 9.39km in 27:15 behind Kenya's Josphat Kipchirchir in 27:00 from Ethiopia's Melese Birhan in 27:02. Gressier also took the scalp of world 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali from Morocco in fourth in 27:31.
Djilali Bedrani was the second French finisher in fifth in 27:38, one place and two seconds ahead of former European U20 and U23 cross country champion Florian Carvalho.
In the women’s race, Portugal's Sara Moreira was third in the senior women’s 5.39km on the road to Tilburg in 17:49 with France’s former European cross country champion Sophie Duarte fifth in 17:58.
Ethiopian Hawi Feysa was the first to break the tape in 17:39 ahead of teammate Gete Alemayehu in 17:40.
At the Cross de l’Acier, a European Athletics Cross Country Permit Meeting, in Leffrinckoucke on Sunday, Marie Bouchard was the leading home finisher in 26:09 from Aurore Guerin in eighth in 26:30. Ethiopia’s two-time world U20 cross country champion Letensenbet Gidey won the senior women’s race in 25:25.
In the men’s event, Quentin Tison was the leading French finisher in 15th in 33:00 as Ethiopian Solomon Berihu won in 30:41.
Moller builds on momentum with runner-up finish in Soria
One week after winning the Nordic cross country title in Reykjavik, Anna Emilie Moller continued her good run of form in the build-up to Tilburg with a runner-up finish at the Cross Internacional de Soria on Sunday.
Moller, the reigning European U23 3000m steeplechase champion, finished second in the senior women’s 8km behind Kenya’s Gloria Kite - 28:47 to 28:55. Elena Loyo made up the podium in third in 29:11.
In the senior men’s 10km, former European 10,000m bronze medallist Antonio Abadia was the best of the Spaniards in sixth in 31:06 just ahead of Juan Antonio Perez (31:07) and Javier Guerra (31:10).
At the Slovakian Cross Country Championships on Saturday (17) Tibor Sahajda took the men’s title over 8km in 24:27 and Veronika Zrastakova was crowned women’s champion over 7km in 24:19.
And at Polish U23 Cross Country Championships in Namyslow on Saturday, Dariusz Boratynski and Patrycja Kapala were crowned champions.
Just over a month after breaking the European 10km record in Durban with 27:32, Julien Wanders was celebrating more success on Saturday – and this time at home in Switzerland.
Running at the Corrida Bulloise in Bulle, Wanders defended his title with ease, winning over 8km in 22:27 from Morocco’s Zouhair Talbi in 23:06.
And there was double delight for Switzerland as European 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Fabienne Schlumpf won the women’s race over 6km in a tight finish with Cynthia Kosgei of Kenya. The clock stopped for both of them at 19:41, separated by the narrowest margins - 19:41.1 to 19:41.3.
Wanders will be focusing on the roads over the next few months but Schlumpf has already been pre-selected on the Swiss team for Tilburg next month.