From Brussels to Marrakech, the Challenge is open!
With a surprise win by Kenyas James Moiben, the IAAF World Cross Challenge 98 got off to a soggy start in Brussels on Sunday.
20 year old Moiben, who lives and trains in Spain during the cross country season and is a native of the Eldoret region of Kenya - like so many of the Kenyan stars on the international circuit, won the 10.5 km race, which was held in pouring rain and resultant heavy conditions, in 33:07, ahead of his compatriots Thomas Nyariki and Paul Kosgei. This was Moibens first win in an international event - he ran 28:01 in the 10,000m in Oslo in July 1997 but was disqualified and took second place in the Amorebieta cross last year. So far this season he has scored a second place in another Spanish cross country in Soria and recently won the Porto half-marathon with a convincing 1:02:02.
Ethiopias Assefa Mezegebu took fourth place ahead of European champion Carsten Jorgensen of Denmark. The reigning world champion and victor of the past three World Cross Challenges, Paul Tergat (KEN), who was largely tipped as favourite to win Sundays event was unable to do better than seventh place, after falling back from the leading pack 2 kilometres before the finish.
There were fewer surprises in the womens race, where the 1996 world champion Gete Wami (ETH), finished the 6km race just ahead of Paula Radcliffe (GBR) in a time of 20:45. Radcliffe and Wami were neck and neck for much of the race, but Wami outkicked Radcliffe in the final kilometre to take first place. Third and fourth places were taken by Wamis compatriots Kutre Dulecha and Merima Denboba.
The circuit now moves to Durham (GBR) for the 10th Durham International Cross on 3 January.