MonteCarloThe thirteen individual one day meetings which make up the calendar of IAAF Cross Country Permit events for the 2004/05 season begin this weekend in Oeiras, Portugal (Sunday 21 November 2004), and conclude in Fukuoka, Japan on Sunday 6 March 2005.
The season will culminate two weeks later with the 33rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships in St. Etienne / St. Galmier, France on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 March 2005. The most important cross country event of them all, the annual two-day championships, is the oldest IAAF World Athletics Series event.
Last year, when the World Cross was held in Brussels, Belgium, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele sauntered with ease to his third consecutive long and short course race gold medal double. The 22-year-old has clearly confirmed himself as the greatest ever master of this multi-terrain running discipline.
As yet the World and Olympic 10,000m champion has not declared any definite race plans prior to the Championships, and as ever, even his racing intentions regarding the season’s climax remain shrouded in speculation.
After his double victories in Brussels last winter Bekele made a definitive statement that he would never again contest the double. Yet in the last month Hicham El Guerrouj has presented the intriguing prospect of Morocco’s Olympic 1500m and 5000m champion making his senior debut at the World Cross Country Championships in a bid to win the short course race (approximately 4000m).
In this scenario it is hard to imagine a fit Bekele opting to sit-out and possibly watch the Moroccan who vanquished him so narrowly in both the 2004 Olympic and 2003 World 5000m track finals, upstage him again by snatching one of ‘his’ World Cross Country crowns.
IAAF CROSS COUNTRY PERMIT MEETINGS 2004/2005
Sun 21 OEIRAS POR
Sun 28 LLODIO ESP
Sun 19 BRUSSELS BEL
Sat 8 BELFAST GBR
Sat 15 EDINBURGH GBR
Sun 16 SEVILLA ESP
Sun 23 TOURCOING FRA
Sun 30 ALBUFEIRA POR
Sun 6 SAN VITTORE ITA
Sat 12 NAIROBI KEN
Sun 13 DIEKIRCH LUX
Sun 20 CHIBA JPN
Sun 6 FUKUOKA JPN
Sat 19 & Sun 20 March 2005, IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Saint-Etienne / Saint-Galmier, FRA.