MonteCarloThe senior women’s races at this weekend’s 32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Brussels, Belgium (20/21 March) have certainly attracted the blue-chip stock of the women’s long distance running scene.
Britain’s Paula Radcliffe (2001/2002) and Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu (1995,1997, 2000) have amassed a total of five long course World Cross Country Championship titles between them, and for similar reasons will be looking for success in Brussels as a positive stepping stone to this summer’s Olympics, after both runners experienced an up and down 2003.
Respectively, the World marathon record holder and the reigning Olympic 10,000m champion had their World Championships track hopes ruined last summer. Injury prevented Radcliffe ever getting to Paris and illness scuppered Tulu’s hopes once she was there. Both have since returned to good form with Radcliffe taking the World Half Marathon and European Cross titles, and Tulu running a 14:54.74 indoor 5000m personal best in Boston at the end of January.
Add to the Brussels mixture, the Netherlands’ Lornah Kiplagat who was the World 10,000m revelation of Paris with her fourth place, 30:12.53 – 6th best all-time clocking, and who swept Radcliffe aside on the road over 10km recently in San Juan, and we have the prospect of a great long course battle in Brussels. Kiplagat and Radcliffe are entered for the short course race too.
The many other medal challengers this weekend, we haven’t even brought into consideration the reigning Long Course champion Werknesh Kidane of Ethiopia, who many would see as a stronger gold medal bet than the three previously mentioned names.
Kidane is seeking her own piece of history in Brussels where she will attempt a short and long course double. Her credentials for this task speak for themselves, as she was the silver medallist over 10,000m on the track last summer, and at the 2003 Lausanne World Cross followed her long course victory with silver in the short race.