16 DEC 1999 General News

IAAF World Cross Challenge 2000 starts in Brussels on Sunday 19 December

IAAF World Cross Challenge 2000 kicks off in Brussels - Paulo Guerra (Por) and Jon Brown (Gbr) vs. Africa

16 December 1999 - Monte Carlo - The IAAF World Cross Challenge 2000 starts in Brussels on Sunday. With the following stages in Seville, Spain (16 January), Durham, Great Britain (22 January); Loule, Portugal (6 February); Nairobi, Kenya (19 February); Chiba, Japan (20 February, the Challenge will culminate on 18-19 March 2000, in Vilamoura (POR), with the 28th IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

The 10th ASLK/CGER Cross Cup, will be held in the Atomium Brupark, with 7 circuits of the grassy 1500m course for the men and four for the women. Some of the world’s top cross specialists will be competing in this first leg of the Cross Challenge.

Portugal’s Paulo Guerra, who won the European title just a week ago, in Slovenia, and who took bronze in last year’s World Championships in Belfast, starts favourite in Brussels. But Guerra will be strongly challenged by Patrick Ivuti, the twenty-one year old Kenyan who came second in Belfast, behind Paul Tergat, after making much of the running ahead of his "captain" and largely facilitated Tergat’s victory. Ivuti and Paulo Guerra were the great revelations of that unforgettable day of cross country.

On Sunday, in Brussels, another European stalwart – Britain’s Jon Brown – will be among the protagonists, especially considering his current form, which gave him a bronze medal in this year’s European Cross Championships. More African stars will also be running, in the shape of Evans Ruto and, especially, Charles Kamathi, who, barely 21 years-old, set the best performance of the year over 10,000m, with 26:51.49 at the Brussels leg of the IAAF Golden League, the Memorial Van Damme. Nor should Ethiopia’s Jifar Hapte, who came 6th in the 10,000m in Seville be underestimated.

Gete Wami, the Ethiopian who is reigning World Champion in the cross country and the 10,000m, is one athlete who can expect success in Brussels and, probably, also in the overall IAAF Cross Challenge. On Sunday, she will be facing her compatriots Merima Dendoba and Aevleck Worku – two of the world’s leading cross country runners - and Kenyans Susan Chepkemei and Jacqueline Maranga, who won last year’s World Championships short cross.

The rules of the IAAF World Cross Challenge allows for the awarding, for each race, of 25 points for the winner and 22 for second place, 19 for third, 17 for fourth down to 1 point for the 20th place. These points are doubled for World Championship races.

The IAAF World Cross Challenge offers the following cash prizes (equal for men and women): 1st place, $25,000; 2nd, $15,000; 3rd, $12,000; 4th, $10,000, 5th, $5,000; 6th, $3,000.