Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayalew and Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin will line up for the Cross de Atapuerca looking to add another victory to their tally when the IAAF Cross Country Permit series gets underway in Burgos on 16 November.
World cross silver medallist Ayalew ended the summer season as the best steeplechaser in the world and she will now look to continue that form on the cross country.
Having won in Burgos for the past two years, she is bidding to become the first three-time winner of the women’s race at the Cross de Atapuerca.
But her task won’t be easy as she will be up against her fellow Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira, who finished just one place behind her at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships.
Oljira, who is also the world bronze medallist over 10,000m, is coming fresh from a victory at the Great South Run, where she set a PB of 52:40 for 10 miles. She finished second in this race in 2011 and will aim to improve on that.
Also in the field is Uganda’s Rebecca Cheptegei, who won last year’s Cross International de la Constitucion, also held in Burgos.
The men’s field boasts a trio of talented Eritrean athletes, led by two-time world cross medallist Teklemariam Medhin. The 25-year-old triumphed in Burgos in 2010 and since then has twice finished in the top four, placing fourth in 2012 and third in 2013.
The two compatriots joining him on the start line are world half marathon silver medallist Samuel Tsegay and former world youth bronze medallist Goitom Kifle. Both athletes finished in the top eight in Burgos last year, but were just a few seconds adrift of making it on to the podium.
But the real danger will be Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris, the 20-year-old who earlier this year clocked a world-leading 12:54.83 for 5000m and in 2013 won three high-quality cross-country races in Italy before taking bronze in the junior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Fellow Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan, the 2011 world 10,000m champion, is also in the field. The 25-year-old hasn’t contested a cross-country race for five years, but as a former world junior champion on the cross country, he cannot be discounted.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Bett will perhaps be the most motivated athlete in the field. Last year the 31-year-old finished a narrow second in Burgos, just one second adrift of Imane Merga.
The top Spanish entrants in the men’s race include two-time European cross-country champion Alemayehu Bezabeh, two-time European cross-country silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem, European Championships marathon fourth-place finisher Javier Guerra, and Jesus Antonio Nunez, winner of the first edition of the Cross de Atapuerca in 2004.
Organisers for the IAAF