Young Kenyan Wilson Kiprop clinched his second consecutive win defeating compatriot Thomas Longosiwa in the EA Permit Cross Country race in Villa Lagarina near Rovereto on a snowy and very cold afternoon.
In the women’s race local favourite Federica Dal Ri took the honours in front of her home crowd holding off 2006 European Cross Country champion Tatyana Holovchenko from the Ukraine for the second consecutive time in 2009 after her her narrow third place in the Campaccio race in San Giorgio su Legnano.
Men’s race -
A four-men group formed by Kiprop, Thomas Longosiwa, Titus Masai and Ezekiel Meli took the lead from the early stages of the race run over a very difficult up-and-down mountain course. Experienced Italian Cross Country runner Gabriele De Nard and Stefano Scaini followed in the chasing group.
With three laps to go only Meli could not follow the pace and lost ground when Longosiwa, who was fourth at the 2008 Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona, and Kiprop pushed the pace.
The race became an exciting three-man battle between Longosiwa, Kiprop and Masai in the penultimate lap. Longosiwa and Kiprop swapped their position in the lead.
At the bell Longosiwa, a 12:51.95 performer in the 5000 metres in 2007, and Kiprop engaged a neck-to-neck battle which continued for most of the last lap. Kiprop who was looking for a back-to-back win in Rovereto launched his attack in the final kick edging out Longosiwa by one second with 25:25 over the 8.6 km course.
“I was looking for a second victory here,” said Kiprop. “It was the second time in my career I competed in these cold weather conditions. Today I wanted to see what I could produce against such a strong athlete like Longosiwa. I am looking for a place in the Kenyan team for Amman at next month’s Kenyan Trials.”
Women’s race -
Snow began to fall shortly before the start of the women’s 5.6 km race. Tatyana Holovchenko from Ukraine went to the front in the early part of the race. Federica Dal Ri ran in second place for most of the race behind Holovchenko who mantained her leading margin in the first part of the race.
Dal Ri tried to close the gap on Holovchenko during the second lap and managed to catch up on the Ukrainian in the uphill section of the course during the second lap.
After the bell Holovchenko regained the lead trying to break away from Dal Ri but the Italian quickly responded to the initiative of Holovchenko.
Dal Ri broke away launching his decisive kick in the final 200 metres taking the win for the joy of her local supporters. Dal Ri hails from Cles near Trento and competed for the local Rovereto club which organizes the Vallagarina Cross Country race before joining the Esercito military team.
“I trained very hard this week to prepare for the upcoming European Club Championships in Istanbul on 1 February. I really like this race organized by former team,” said Dal Ri. “I saw that Holovchenko was struggling in the downhill section. It was nice to win at home. I am now planning to run in Isanbul and at the Italian Cross Country Championships before making an attempt in mid-February in the indoor 3000 metres to qualify for the European Indoor Championships in Turin.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading Results –
Men’s race (8.6 km):
1. Wilson Kiprop (Kenya) 25:25
2. Thomas Longosiwa (Kenya) 25:26
3. Titus Masai (Kenya) 25:29
4. Ezekiel Meli (Kenya) 26:03
5. Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 26:30
6. Stefano Scaini (Italy) 26:31
7. Gian Marco Buttazzo (Italy) 26:36
8. Erastus Chirchir (Kenya) 27:00
Women’s race (5.6 km):
1. Federica Dal Ri (Italy) 19:17
2. Tatyana Holovchenko (Ukraine) 19:19
3. Ivana Iozzia (Italy) 19:42
4. Renate Rungger (Italy) 19:44
5. Micaela Bonessi (Italy) 19:53