Podium finishes for Guerra and Mechaal on home soil

European indoor champion Mechaal set for Kampala test
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Adel Mechaal finished third on home soil at the Cross Nacional Fiestas de la Virgen in Yecla on Sunday

Spain missed out on individual and team medals in the senior men’s race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg last weekend but Javier Guerra and Adel Mechaal both reached the podium in their respective races on Sunday (16).

Guerra finished 31st at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park last Sunday but the 35-year-old was a much improved performer at the Cross Internacional de Venta de Banos, finishing second over a 10.7km course to Kenya’s Vincent Rono - 34:16 to 34:22.

Guerra, who was also fourth in the marathon at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, had the beating of some well-known international competitors as well. Eritrea’s world 5000m finalist Awet Habte was third in 34:35 and Kenyan steeplechase Benjamin Kigen was fifth in 35:09.

Now 35, Guerra is still getting faster and improved his marathon lifetime best down to 2:08:36 in February. He has also been pre-selected to represent Spain at the IAAF World Championships in Doha next year.

In the senior women’s 7.6km, Portugal’s Ines Monteiro was third in 29:17 and Spain’s Marta Perez fourth in 29:35. Ethiopian Letensenbet Gidey, the winner of the last two world U20 cross country titles, won in 27:22.

Adel Mechaal has won two individual medals at the European Cross Country Championships but he faded to eighth in Tilburg last weekend, also missing out on a team medal by just one point.

Mechaal improved to third over 10km at the Cross Nacional Fiestas de la Virgen in Yecla on Sunday in 29:22 behind Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew (28:54) and Turkey’s former European 10,000m champion Polat Kemboi Arikan (29:03).

Trihas Gebre also made the podium in the women’s race, finishing a distant third in 26:45 behind Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu (25:32) and Kenya’s Norah Tanui (25:38).

Sclabas finished second in Zurich

After winning silver in the U20 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg the previous Sunday, there was no stopping Switzerland’s Delia Sclabas who achieved another fine second in Zurich over 4.6km this weekend.

At the at 42nd Silvesterlauf, Sclabas ran 14:57 as Kenyan Cynthia Kosgei won the women’s title in 14:51. 

And there was a home win in the men’s race as Matthias Kyburz was first in 15:22 from Kenya’s Bernard Matheka and his fellow Swiss Eric Ruttiman who both clocked the same time in a sprint finish.

Croatia’s Nikolina Sustic knows all about distances – after all, in September she was crowned the 100km world champion. 

In Pisa on Sunday, the marathon challenge of 26.2 miles saw her achieve another success as she won a close race from Hungary’s Tunde Szabo - 2:42:29 to 2:43:35. Remarkably this was Sustic's fifth marathon since the start of November, and her third podium finish.

In the men’s race, there was a debut to remember for Sweden’s Johan Larsson. After passing halfway in 67:31, Larsson won in 2:16:13 as he beat Italy’s 2016 champion Ahmed Nasef, who was second in 2:20:51.

Spanish walkers Alvaro Lopez and Lidia Sanchez-Puebla Fernandez achieved home victories at the 20th Trofeo Marcha Atletica Cerro Buenavista in Guadix on Sunday. Lopez won the men’s race in 42:21 and Fernandez took the women’s title in 47:37.