11 November 2012 – Copenhagen, Denmark - Denmark took an historic double victory at the Nordic Cross Country Championships on Saturday (10) when Abdi Hakin Ulad and Simone Glad claimed victories in the men’s and women’s races respectively.
The championship - an event held since 1997 with Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark as the five participating nations – has previously seen both Danish men and women triumph in the individual competition, but never in the same year.
The scene was set in Tårnby, close to Copenhagen Airport, where a flat course with some steep hills to be climbed awaited the runners.
A Dane and a Swede battling for the Gold – men’s race
The defending champion in the men’s race, Urige Buta (NOR), was by many seen as a strong favorite due to his convincing victory in Uddevalla (SWE) in 2011. The Ethiopian-born runner was as in the leading pack after three of the five laps were completed, but with one lap to go it became clear that a new champion was to be found between Abdi Hakin Ulad (DEN) and last year’s silver medallist, Mikael Ekvall of Sweden.
The 21-year-old Ulad – who arrived in Denmark as a Somali refugee when he was ten – looked indeed determined to win the battle. Over the last kilometre he was able to break away from the Swede and eventually crossed the finish line in 26:23 over the nine kilometre course leaving Ekvall ten seconds behind. Further behind three Norwegians battled for the bronze, which was eventually claimed by Asbjørn Ellefsen Persen. Buta, the defending champion, was obviously troubled by an injury and had to settle with the eighth place, however securing Norway the title in the team competition.
Grøvdal did not start – women’s race
The Women’s race turned out to be an open affair, as the strong favorite, Karoline Grøvdal of Norway, withdrew due to injuries in order to prepare for next month’s European Cross Country Championships in Budapest.
Despite Grøvdal’s absence, the Norwegians still looked to dominate. With four kilometres to go, they had a quartet running up among the leading group. Quite surprisingly though, Glad of Denmark was keeping up. Having placed only 16th among 19 runners at last year’s championships, no one would have bet on the 22-year-old Dane. But Glad, appearing to be the least exhausted of the competitors, kept the pace. Over the last lap she then move to the front and managed to create a gap of a few seconds. In the end she won by four seconds ahead of 37-year-old Ulrika Flodin of Sweden, while Veronika Blom (NOR) came in third. With the veteran Melkevik and Søfting finishing fourth and sixth, Norway took the team title.
Jeppe Weinreich (organisers) for the IAAF
Men (9 km) -
1. Abdi Hakin Ulad, Denmark 26:23
2. Mikael Ekvall Sweden 26:33
3. Asbjørn Ellefsen Persen, Norway 23:37
Teams - 1. Norway 20; 2. Denmark 26; 3. Sweden 34...
Women (7.5 km) -
1. Simone Glad, Denmark 26:03
2. Ulrika Flodin, Sweden 26:07
3. Veronika B. Blom, Norway 26:11
Teams - 1. Norway 13; 2. Denmark 14; 3. Sweden 29...