Morocco’s Salah Hissou showed his form today as he ran to an easy victory in Italy’s grand classic cross country, the Cinque Mulini (Five Mills), in San Vittore Olona, the final IAAF cross country permit meeting before the 27th World Cross Championships in Belfast on 27-28 March.
Hissou split from the rest of the pack in the early stages of the race and led the race for the rest of the course, without any serious challenge from second-placed John Korir (KEN), who came in 14 seconds behind Hissou’s clocking of 34:49. The Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid took third place in 35:06 for the 10.8 kilometre course.
The return to the circuit of Salah Hissou, after a season where he was sidelined through acute tendinitis and missed last year’s World Cross Country Championships in his native Morocco, could yet pose the most serious threat to Paul Tergat’s attempt to win his fifth consecutive World Cross Title.
27 year-old Hissou took bronze in the 1995 edition and silver in both the 1996 and 1997 Championships.
Turin in 1997, was the scene of an epic battle for gold between Hissou and Tergat, with Tergat finally outkicking Hissou in the final straight to take the tape and his third consecutive World Cross title.
Last year, in Marrakech, Tergat beat his countryman Paul Koech to take the highest step of the podium, after Koech had led the race for over half the 12km course.
Tergat missed this year’s Cinque Mulini, which he has won convincingly on two occasions in the past, with a reported minor muscle pull and will not compete now prior to the World Championships, which will take place in Belfast on 27-28 March.
Anita Weyermann (SUI) won the women's race on Sunday, covering the 4.9 km in 17:31. Kenya's Margaret Okaio was second in 17:36, followed by Fatima Yvelain (FRA) in 17:59.