Vivian Cheruiyot holds off Linet Masai in Seville (Alfambra Fundación ANOC) © Copyright
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Medal aspirants give World Championships course seal of approval – two months to go - Punta Umbría 2011

Punta Umbria, SpainSome of the world’s best Cross Country runners recently visited the course for the upcoming IAAF World Cross Country Championships - Punta Umbria, Spain, 20 March 2011 – and gave it a firm thumbs up.

Among the runners to test the course were the reigning World Cross Country champion, Joseph Ebuya of Kenya; Eritrea’s World silver medallist Teklemariam Medhin; Leonard Komon, winner of last weekend’s Cross Internacional de Itálica’; and Kenya’s reigning track champions Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai. All expressed their satisfaction with the beauty and quality of the course.

"I really liked it,” Ebuya said. “I hope I can defend my World championship title title. I love running in Spain for its weather, and I'm very happy with my results this season. Punta Umbría 2011 is my goal. I know my rivals, I know I have to give my best. But I want to make the people of Kenya happy again."

Medhin, who lives in Madrid, is also upbeat about the prospects of competing so close to home.

"It's very special for me,” Medhin said. “I want to win the World Championship in Spain, it would be fantastic! This is a fast circuit, as you could see in Japan, with perfect grass. It's good ground to run fast."

Komon, who after setting World records over 10 and 15Km on the roads in 2010 won his second Italica title last Sunday, said, “It was tough for me to win there, but it will be even harder to be the first at the World Championship. I cannot say now that I am going to be the World champion this year but that is my primary goal in 2011 and I will definitely go for it. The course is perfect for a World Championship. I hope I can win here."

Some of the world’s finest women’s distance runners also shared high praise for the Punta Umbria course.

Masai, gunning for gold

The Itálica race featured a thrilling battle between two reigning World champions on the track – Cheruiyot (5000m) and Masai (10,000m). After that race, the pair toured the course as well.

"I'm training hard now to prepare for the Kenyan trials,” said Masai, who hopes to be gunning for gold in Andalusia. “I will do my best. This year I know all the previous races were complicated. I got two silver medals, but this season I want to get the gold medal. And I'm trying to improve my final sprint. I think it is important for me in order to gain more victories. I'm going to run my own race, I will not be watching my rivals."

On the other hand Cheruiyot preferred to wait before speaking about her chances in Punta Umbria.

"Here in Spain the weather conditions are perfect for me, and this is good for me in Punta Umbría. But now I have to decide what is better for me. It depends on Kenyan trials. I will see."

Organisers promoted the image of Punta Umbría 2011 during the Itálica race, setting a goal of attracting 20,000 spectators to the event in exactly two months time.

Punta Umbria 2011 Organisers for the IAAF