Kenya’s Simon Arusei and Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew Yimer were the unchallenged victors in the ‘26th Cross Internacional Castellano-Manchego’ on Sunday (5), as the new Spanish cross country season got underway on a very windy day.
The event featured no less than three top-ten athletes from this year’s IAAF World Cross Country championships – long race - held in Fukuoka (Japan) in early April.
MEN – Arusei succeeds comfortably
From the gun it was the Spanish trio of Carles Castillejo (runner-up at the 2003 Superleague over 3000m and a 13:19.47 5000m runner), former European 3000m Steeplechase champion Antonio Jiménez and Ricardo Serrano (9th at the last Europeans in Gothenburg in the 10,000m) who made most of the early pace. Also in the leading group were pre-race favourite Kenya’s Simon Arusei, and two further Spaniards, 2003 World 3000m Steeplechase bronze medallist Eliseo Martín and reigning European cross country silver medallist Alberto García.
The key movement of the 9km race occurred at the start of the final lap (2km) when Arusei, who had turned 29 years of age on the eve of the race, stepped up the pace dramatically. Only Serrano could live with that sudden change of speed although the Spaniard managed to stay with Arusei for less than 600m. The long-legged Kenyan offered a magnificent five-minute display of easy and smooth run and romped home unopposed.
Arusei’s winning margin was 9 seconds (25:50-25:59) over the 26-year-old Serrano, who had to fight hard with Castillejo (26:01) in the domestic fight to be the top Spaniard home. As for De la Ossa, the reigning European 10,000 bronze medallist continues to be hampered by injuries and far from his peak he had to settle for the 12th place over one minute adrift the winner. Everybody stood for a minute’s silence before the start of the race in memory of De la Ossa’s father, who passed away three weeks ago.
“Honestly it has not been a difficult win,” said Arusei. “My plan was to run conservatively during the first stages of the event to push hard only in the last 2000m. Things go well as today’s is my second victory in the last weeks.”
The Kenyan has had his best ever year. He took 10th spot at the World Cross in Fukuoka, and on the track this summer smashed his 10,000 PB to 27:22.01. Arusei’s last competitive appearance had been at the Great South Run in Portsmouth (UK) two weeks ago (22 October) when he took and emphatic win over 10 miles in 47.17 from Spain’s ‘Chema’ Martínez, and Britain’s Jon Brown.
WOMEN – Ayalew Yimer prevents another Kenyan success
The women’s 6km race saw an interesting duel between Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew Yimer and Kenya’s Alice Chelangat. They were the overwhelming favourites thanks to their 5th and 10th place finishes at the Worlde Cross in Fukuoka.
After a cautious start the 20-year-old Kenyan injected a brisker pace which left the rest of the field well behind with the exception of the diminutive Yimer. The 19-year-old Ethiopian, also fifth at this summer’s World Junior championships in Beijing over 5000m, tried to leave Chelangat with 1800 left but the Kenyan didn’t give up and remained at her shoulder.
It was with 600m to go that Yimer pushed hard again and managed to built a comfortable gap over Chelangat securing a fine win in 21:10 and a 15-second advantage over the much more experienced Kenyan, who finished 11th at the Athens Olympics Marathon. Yimer’s next outing will be in Torredonjimeno (Spain) on Sunday 12 November.
The first Spaniard home was Rosa Morató (9th at the last European XC in Tilburg) in third 34 seconds behind the victor.
As it has become a tradition, both winners Arusei and Ayalew Yimer received their respective weights (64 and 44 kilos) in wine and chocolates, the main products of Quintanar. They now join a selected group of past winners which includes Ethiopia’s living legend Haile Gebrselassie (1994), his compatriot Berhane Adere (1996) and Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadesse (2005).
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
Men (9 km)
1. Simon Arusei (Ken) 25:50
2. Ricardo Serrano (Esp) 25:59
3. Carles Castillejo (Esp) 26:01
4. Antonio Jiménez (Esp) 26:16
5. Eliseo Martín (Esp) 26:28
6. Alberto García (Esp) 26:39
7. Pol Guillén (Esp) 26:39
8. Ignacio Cáceres (Esp) 26:44
1. Wude Ayalew Yimer (Eth) 21:10
2. Alice Chelangat (Ken) 20:25
3. Rosa Morató (Esp) 21:44
4. Sonia Bejarano (Esp) 21:56
5. Judit Plá (Esp) 22:02
6. Alessandra Aguilar (Esp) 22:16