Asmeraworch Bekele collects a narrow win at the Cross della Vallagarina (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
General News Villa Lagarina, ITA

Ethiopian sweep at the Cross della Vallagarina

Ethiopia dominated the 33rd edition of the Cross della Vallagarina near Rovereto on Sunday (17) by taking the win in both the men’s race with Abere Chane and the women’s  race with Asmeraworch Bekele.

Men’s race -

Chane killed off the competition with a gun-to-tape race taking the lead from the early stages of the 8.8 km race. Abere, who finished fifth at the 2004 IAAF World Junior Championships in Grosseto in the 10,000m and has run a PB of 27:47 over the distance, went to the lead during the first lap. The only athlete who was able to follow the Ethiopian was Ukrainian 2:10:36 marathoner Vasyl Matvichuk  who tried to close the gap on Chane during the first lap.

Matvichuk, who is planning to run the Marathon at the European Championships  in Barcelona next summer,  managed to keep up with Chane briefly  on the downhill section of the course during the first lap but his effort probably took its toll uphills when Chane pushed the pace increasing his gap to 20 metres.

Meanwhile the chasing group formed by Italian runners Stefano La Rosa, Gabriele De Nard, Yuri Floriani, Gianmarco Buttazzo and Martin Dematteis fought for third place but they were well behind. During the second lap Chane continued to push the pace carving out a solid margin over Matvichuk which proved to be decisive. The Ethiopian continued to pull away lap after lap with a margin of more than 20 seconds at the bell. During the last lap he continued his stroll  taking the win at a canter in 25:52 by 29 seconds over Matvichuk. During the third lap Matvichuk suffered from a stitch but managed to hold on defending his second place in 26:21 prevailing by five seconds over Stefano La Rosa, third overall and first among the Italians.

“It was a very good race. It was a easy win but the course was tough with a lot of ups and downs. I am now returning to Ethiopia for the National Cross Country Championships”, said Chane, who won the Vienna Silvester race on 31 December.

Women’s race -

In the women’s race a quartet formed by 2006 European Cross Country Championships Tatyana Holovchenko, the two young Ethiopians Asmeraworch Bekele and Tizita Bogale, and local favourite Federica Dal Ri went to the front from the early stages. Holovchenko was the first to launch an attack during the first lap. The Ukrainian kept the pace in the front closely followed by the two young Ethiopians and Dal Ri, who won last year in Vallagarina ahead of Holovchenko.

Bogale, who was born in 1993 and finished fifth in the 800m at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone last summer, and Bekele  launched their decisive attack during the second lap breaking away from the European pair of Dal Ri and Holovchenko. Dal Ri managed to pull away from Holovchenko uphill during the second lap.

Bogale and Bekele battled it out for the win during the third and last lap. They ran a neck-to-neck race until the final metres when Bekele edged out her compatriot in a dramatic final sprint into the finish-line. They shared the same final time of 18:37. Dal Ri, who finished 19th at the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin and third at the Campaccio on 6 January, took third place to the delight of local crowd and the local Quercia Rovereto athletics team for which the Italian runner started her career. Holovchenko finished a distant fourth in 19:17, 25 seconds behind Dal Ri.

Bekele was born in 1991. She has clocked 4:10 in the 1500m but is planning to run over longer distances in the future. She finished ninth in the 1500m at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz  2008. During 2009 she finished fourth in the 1500m at the Ethiopian Championships and seventh at the National Cross Country Championships. More recently she won the Vienna Silvester Race on 31 December.

“I am returning to Ethiopia for the National Cross Championships. I am aiming at qualifying for the World Cross Country Championships in Bydszgoxz on 28 March. The half marathon may become my distance for the future,” the young Ethiopian said.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Leading Results:

MEN (8.8 km) -
 1. Abere Chane, ETH         25:52
 2. Vasyl Matvich, UKR       26:21
 3. Stefano La Rosa, ITA     26:26
 4. Gabriele De Nard, ITA    26:29
 5. Yury Floriani, ITA       26:42
 6. Gianmarco Buttazzo, ITA  26:44
 7. Martin Dematteis, ITA    26:49
 8. Stefano Scaini, ITA      26:57
 9. Bernard Dematteis, ITA   27:01
10. Josef Katib, GER         27:17

WOMEN (5.5 km) -
 1. Asmeraworch Bekele, ETH   18:37
 2. Tizita Bogale, ETH        18:37
 3. Federica Dal Ri, ITA      18:52
 4. Tetyana Holovchenko, UKR  19:17
 5. Renate Rungger, ITA       19:36
 6. Simona Santini, ITA       19:37
 7. Livia Toth, HUN           19:39
 8. Ivana Iozzia, ITA         19:44
 9. Barbara La Barbera, ITA   19:45
10 .Silvia La Barbera, ITA    19:49