30 NOV 2007 Preview Alcobendas, Spain

Ebuya, Jepkorir the favourites in Alcobendas - Cross Internacional de la Constitucion preview

Joseph Ebuya coming home unchallenged in Soria (Concha Ortega)Joseph Ebuya coming home unchallenged in Soria (Concha Ortega) © Copyright

Kenya’s Joseph Ebuya, Kiprono Menjo and Hosea Macharinyang will be three of the star names at the 26th ‘Cross Internacional de la Constitución’ – an EAA Permit Meeting - to be held in Alcobendas, on the outskirts of Madrid on Sunday (2). Their encounter will provide an interesting rematch of the Llodio XC permit which was staged a fortnight ago. On that occasion the Kenyan triumvirate monopolized the podium positions.

Men's race – Hat trick of wins for Ebuya on Spanish soil?

Both Ebuya - who is the reigning World Junior 10,000m silver medallist - and Menjo succeeded last weekend. While the former clinched an overwhelming victory in Soria (IAAF permit) from Macharinyang, Menjo captured a one-second victory (27:46/27:47) over Ethiopia’s Nahom Mesfin at the ‘Jean Bouin’ – a 9550m road race held in Barcelona - and so the 18-year-old Ethiopian should be eager to take revenge of that narrow defeat. The previous weekend he came 10th at the opening IAAF Cross Country permit held in Oeiras (17 Nov). Mesfin claimed the 12th place at last summer’s Worlds in Osaka in the 3000m Steeplechase where he holds a PB of 8:17.21 when clinching the bronze medal at the African Games in Alger.

As for the 28-year-old Menjo, he finished a notable 8th in Osaka over 10,000m after lowering his PB to 27:04.61 in Neerpelt in early June. He completed a fine season by grabbing the silver medal at the African Games in the 5000m. The mighty Kenyan squad assembled on Sunday also includes Abraham Chebii and Mark Kiptoo. Both athletes took part at the L’Alcier (France) permit last weekend with a sixth place for the last (2005) World Cross Country short race silver medallist Chebii. The Kapsowar native crossed the tape 39 seconds adrift Ethiopia’s Imane Merga but himself well ahead of Kiptoo’s 10th pace showing.

Zersenay Tadese will be present in Alcobendas... but as a spectator!

To strengthen even more the African dominance in Alcobendas over the 10,100m course, race director José Ramón García has also brought together the Eritrean pair of Ali Abdallah and Kidane Tadese plus Zimbabwe’s Cuthbert Nyasango; the three of them are based in Madrid and train under the guidance of Jerónimo Bravo whose most well-known protégée is the reigning World Cross Country and World Road Running champion Zersenay Tadese. Kenenisa Bekele’s conqueror in Mombasa has confirmed his presence in Alcobendas to watch his younger brother Kidane’s performance while he has only signed up, for now, the fifth leg of the IAAF XC series in Edinburgh (UK) on 12 January.

In the absence of the six Spanish athletes selected for next weekend’s European Championships in Toro, local hopes rest with Ayad Lamdasem. The Moroccan-born 10,000m Spanish champion (2006 PB of 27.46.67) completed a classy podium at the ‘Jean Bouin’ last Sunday, 10 seconds behind Menjo but he is not yet eligible to represent his new country as he only received Spanish nationality last 24 May. European indoor 1500m bronze medallist Arturo Casado will also be in the line-up as well as Portugal’s former multiple European champion Paulo Guerra, now 37 years old.

Women’s race – Jepkorir the hot favourite

Would anyone bet against Kenya’s Eunice Jepkorir on the women’s 5900m event? Following her massive 1:01 advantage over Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot and Eritrea’s Simret Sultan in Llodio – where Jepkorir came runner-up behind Meselech Melkamu and the latter two finished in fourth and fifth credited the same time - it seems rather unlikely that the World 3000m Steeplechase bronze medallist will threatened this Sunday. However the 24-year-old Cheruiyot will be eager to prove she has put her Llodio weak result behind her and is on the right path to reproduce her awesome 2007 form when she claimed 5000m silver in Osaka.

Weather forecasters predict a cloudy day on Sunday with just a 5% likelihood of rain, no wind and a high temperature of 12ºC at race time.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF