05 NOV 2012 General News Burgos, Spain

Merga and Masai to headline start of IAAF XC Permit season in Atapuerca

Linet Masai keeps on rolling - en route to a comfortable victory in Edinburgh (Mark Shearman)Linet Masai keeps on rolling - en route to a comfortable victory in Edinburgh (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

5 November 2012 - Reigning World Cross Country champion Imane Merga of Ethiopia will be the headline act at the 'Cross Internacional de Atapuerca', the opening race of the 2012/ 2013 IAAF Cross Country Permit Series, on Sunday 11 November.

Merga, who followed up his early 2011 success in Punta Umbria with a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Daegu later that year, kicked off his 2011/12 Cross Country campaign with a victory in race and will again face a strong challenge.

The men's field will include his Ethiopian compatriot Dejen Gebremeskel, the 2011 World Championships 5000m bronze medallist and 2012 Olympic silver medallist over the distance. Kenya will come armed with Vincent Chepkok, the 2011 World Cross Country bronze medallist, and Emmanuel Bett, who lead the world this season over 10,000m courtesy of his early September 26:51.16 run at the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels. Meanwhile Eritrea will also be well-represented by Teklemariam Medhin, the 2010 World Cross silver medallist.

Heading the women's field is Kenyan Linet Masai, one of the most consistent Cross Country runners in recent years. Still just 22, Masai has captured the silver medal at the last three World Cross Country Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011. She'll be joined by compatriots Priscah Jepleting, a World Cross silver medallist in 2006, and rising star Mercy Cherono.

Ethiopians Belaynesh Oljira and Hiwot Wude, who both finished fifth in this year's Olympic 10,000m and 3000m Steeplechase finals, will also be in the field.

Ireland's Fiounnala Britton, the reigning European champion, and Portugal's Sara Moreira, are also expected.

Look for a full race preview on Friday (9).

IAAF