30 DEC 2012 Preview Madrid, Spain

Bekele and Masai are the stars to beat in Madrid

Tariku Bekele (225) en route to victory through the Sao Paulo rain (Sérgio Shibuya/organisers)Tariku Bekele (225) en route to victory through the Sao Paulo rain (Sérgio Shibuya/organisers) © Copyright

The 48th ‘San Silvestre Vallecana’ – an IAAF Silver Label Road Race – will be held on the evening of New Year’s eve (31) over 10km. In addition to the elite contest, there will be a mass race with 39,000 entrants held two-and-a-half hours before the main event.

Tariku Bekele takes on Lamdassem

The slightly downhill race features Ethiopia’s reigning Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Tariku Bekele as the leading athlete. The 25-year-old 2008 World indoor 3000m champion will line up at this event for the first time and should be eager to take revenge from his one-second loss to Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem over 10 miles in Porstmouth in October where they finished second and third.

Last year, Bekele said goodbye to 2011 with a convincing win in Sao Paulo and the Ethiopian star should be able to sign another successful farewell to the 2012 season in Madrid on Monday.

As for the 31-year-old Lamdassem, he could not manage a hat trick of European Cross Country podium places as he had to settle for sixth in Budapest earlier this month after capturing the silver medal in the two previous editions.

The Spaniard will try to grab the only podium spot missing from his record at the San Silvestre Vallecana after finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011. Given the course is held over a tricky circuit where the closing couple of kilometres are uphill, Lamdassem’s knowledge of the race might play in his favour.

41-year-old José Manuel Martínez, the 2010 European Marathon silver medallist, and Manuel Penas, a 27:58.76 10,000m performer will also be in attendance.

Masai-Burka showdown in the women’s race

The women’s field is of a high calibre largely thanks to the presence of Kenya’s 2009 World 10,000m champion Linet Masai and Ethiopia’s 2008 World indoor 1500m champion Gelete Burka.

While the 23-year-old three-time World cross silver medallist Masai will be aiming for her first win on Spanish soil this winter season following a runner-up position at the Atapuerca Cross-Country permit in early November, Burka seems determined to tackle the distance events, her last appearance being at a 15km road race in Nijmegen in November where the 26-year-old finished a creditable fifth with a 49:26 clocking.

Burka finished fifth at the London Olympics over 5000m and took second place here in Madrid last year, only bettered by her fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, both athletes being credited 31:30 on that occasion.

The ‘third woman’ in contention should be Portugal’s Jessica Augusto. The 31-year-old ace won in Madrid two years ago with 31:59. Augusto enjoyed a fantastic 2010 when she captured European 10,000m silver in Barcelona just five months prior to her European cross-country title in Albufeira. The following year she successfully moved up to the Marathon with a 2:24:33 debut in London. Earlier this year, Augusto managed a fine seventh place in the London Olympics Marathon while her last outing came at a low-key 10km road race in Oeiras in October.

The Spanish contingent includes the 2009 World steeplechase champion Marta Domínguez, now focused on the road events after giving up the track competition following a disappointing 12th at the London Olympics. The 37-year-old will be joined by the in-form Diana Martín, fresh from a top-ten spot (eighth) at the European Cross Country Championships in Budapest while the reigning World 1500m bronze medallist Natalia Rodríguez will also be in attendance.

Weather forecasters predict a cloudy night on Monday with no rain likely and temperatures ranging between 5-7°C by the time of the event.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

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