Rosa Morato winner of the 2007 European Clubs XC in Istanbul (Pat Butcher) © Copyright
The 30-year-old took the ‘San Silvestre de Barcelona’ in convincing fashion. The competition took place over 10km in the city which will host the European Championships next summer. Morató clocked a new best ever Spanish performance of 32:06 to clinch the win on the women’s section (29th overall). With balanced halves of 16:00 and 16:06 the 3000m Steeplechase specialist (PB of 9:26.23) stamped her authority over Portugal’s 35-year-old Ana Días – a member of the Portuguese Cross Country team which took gold in Dublin - who came runner-up in 32:52 and Kenya’s former World Junior 3000m champion Beatrice Jepchumba, timed at 32:59.
As is the case with every Spanish athlete, Morató’s main focus in 2010 is the Barcelona Europeans. In addition, she was born near the city which will be an enormous moral boost according her own words: “I feel now at my peak after my Dublin medal and look forward to competing in Barcelona in front of my home crowd. I hope to make the Spanish team and then advance to the final.”
The men’s event witnessed Carlos Castillejo’s success thanks to a 28:41 performance. The 31-year-old got the better of Morocco’s Mohamed Blal and Portugal’s Fernando Silva. This leading triumvirate went through the halfway point in a slow 14:40; shortly afterwards, Castillejo - a 27:39.79 10,000m specialist and first non-African born athlete at last March’s World Cross Country championships in Amman – broke away easily from Blal and Silva to cross the finish line with a handsome margin of 27 seconds over the Moroccan, himself half a minute ahead of the Portuguese, who was third in 29:38.
Eager to defend Valencia bronze, Higuero succeeds in Lloret
At the ‘San Silvestre de Lloret’ held over 5000m, Spain’s reigning World indoor 1500m bronze medallist Juan Carlos Higuero snatched a sprint victory from his fellow Spaniard José Luis Blanco, the current European 3000m steeplechase silver medallist, 14:23 and 14:24 their respective times. It’s worth mentioning the fact that the 34-year-old Blanco was also the organiser of the event. Third place went for Ireland’s 800m specialist (PB of 1:45.41) Thomas Chamney twelve seconds in arrears while Morocco’s Yassine Kabouri (14:39) took fourth ahead of Spain’s former World 1500m bronze medallist Reyes Estévez (14:43).
Higuero, also a reigning double (1500 & 5000) European outdoor bronze medallist, will defend his bronze medal from Valencia at next March’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha (Qatar). After three more distance races in January, Higuero’s debut over the boards will take place at the IAAF permit in Karlsruhe (Germany) on 31 January where he has scheduled to contest the 3000m. Later in the year, he will choose the 1500m for Barcelona as the timetable doesn’t allow for another 1500 & 5000 double again.
The victory on the women’s section was taken by Spain’s Eva Arias, who made the Berlin Worlds final in the 3000m Steeplechase recording a PB of 9:25.14 in her semi-final. The 29-year-old Arias clocked 16:36 to romp home one second clear of Jacqueline Martín, also of Spain, and Latvia’s Jelena Abele, third in 17:00.
Spain’s former European indoor 1500m champion José Antonio Redolat was victorious at the ‘San Silvestre de Valencia’ held over 4600m. The now 33-year-old 3:31.48 athlete recorded his ninth(!) win in the race with a 13:02 clocking, some three seconds ahead of Argentina’s Javier Carriqueo, himself two seconds clear of Germany’s Johannes Raabe.
The ‘San Silvestre de Salamanca’ witnessed the victory of the 30-year-old Rafael Iglesias, a recent 2:10:44 San Sebastián Marathon victor last 28 November in dreadful weather conditions. The Spaniard, who is already regarded as one of the hot favourites to make the podium at the Europeans, had a five second-win margin (25:17 vs 25:22 over 8400m) on his compatriot Manuel Penas (a 27:58.76 10,000m specialist) while Francisco España, the younger brother of the reigning European 5000m champion Jesús España, completed the podium in 25:24 to build a three-second margin on Kenya’s James Moiben.
Morocco’s Malika Asahssah was successful among the women timed at 28:02 almost a full minute ahead of her fellow Moroccan Fatima Ayachi (28:59).
To conclude, Spain’s top 1500m specialist Arturo Casado won in Crevillente ahead of Argentina’s Miguel Barzola and Spain’s former 10,000m bronze medallist José Ríos while Morocco’s Hamid El Mouaziz took honours in Beasain ahead of his compatriot Abdelhadi El Mouaziz.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
2006 Evergreen Mutola