Leonard Patrick Komon bags his third win at the Elgoibar XC (Alfambra Fundación ANOC) © Copyright
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Komon and Moreira take the spoils at Elgoibar XC

Elgoibar, SpainRunning in cold and cloudy conditions, Leonard Patrick Komon of Kenya grabbed a commanding victory at the ‘68th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza’ on Sunday (23). Komon had a comfortable nine-second win over his fellow Kenyan Micah Kogo, the reigning Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist.

On the women’s side Portugal’s current European 5000m bronze medallist Sara Moreira joined the illustrious list of past winners in Elgoibar getting the better of Spain’s Diana Martín.

By winning today Komon kept his winning streak alive as the 23-year-old 2008 World cross country silver medallist was fresh from another win last Sunday at the IAAF permit in Seville. In addition, the Kenyan ace bagged his third win in Elgoibar out of the last four years, having been successful in 2008, 2010 and again this year.

The contest was billed as an encounter between Komon and Kogo, the reigning and the former World road 10Km record holders. The former became the first athlete to dip under 27 minutes over the distance when he produced a stunning 26:44 performance in Utrecht last fall to better Kogo’s 27:01 previous mark.

Komon pulls away with uncommon ease??The men’s 10,800m event opened with the early lead of the hot pre-race favourites with the Kenyan pair covering the opening lap in the track in a comfortable 1:10.

Some ten minutes into the race there were four men leading in the guise of the Kenyan duo plus New Zealand’s Jake Robertson and Ukraine’s nine-time European XC champion Sergey Lebid. By halfway only the Ukrainian managed to keep up with Komon and Kogo but Lebid began to lose ground just before the seventh kilometre point which was reached in 20:45.

The two Kenyans took turns at the front but Komon seemed to run far from 100%. The key move came with the clock reading 25:00 when Komon injected a brisker pace to break away effortlessly from Kogo.

After successive 2100m laps of 6:13, 6:08 and 6:10, Komon reached the bell (2100m left) five seconds clear of Kogo, himself another three ahead of Lebid. There were no major changes over the closing lap and the first three kept their spots to complete a classy podium.

The winner arrived in Elgoibar last Monday night and had spent the whole week here before returning to Kenya.

“I now fly to my country to build up for the national trials which will be held next 19 February. Between the trials and the World Championships in Punta Umbría I only plan a 10km road race in America on 27 February 27,” the Kenyan ace said.??

Women's race – Felix sets the tone, Moreira cruises

??The women’s 6.624km contest kicked off quite conservatively with the Portuguese duo of Dulce Félix and Moreira, 3rd and 9th respectively at the Europeans XC championships in Dublin, taking on most of the early pacing duties. It’s worth mentioning that Kenya’s Margaret Muriuki, sixth at last year’s Worlds, was running barefoot.

The lead pack went through the first kilometre in 3:13 with the Portuguese duo, Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar and Australia’s former (2004) World XC champion Benita Willis ruling the race.

Surprisingly Willis began to fade after the second kilometre while Spain’s Gema Barrachina (a 31:54 10,000m performer) moved to the lead group where Felix did most of the work while Aguilar and Moreira remained the closest.

Felix’s front running ultimately didn’t pay off for the newly-minted European XC bronze medallist and the 28-year-old Portuguese faltered before the last lap to lose any chance of winning.

Once Aguilar also dropped from the lead pack it became clear that the podium would be made up of Moreira, Martín (14th at last Europeans in Albufeira) and Barrachina. The home crowd dreamt of a Spanish win but Moreira had different plans and unleashed a powerful kick over the last 100m to overtake the two Spaniards.

Last year’s winner Ethiopia’s Ferhiwot Goshu was never a factor and finished a distant seventh, 32 seconds behind Moreira.?

“There was a quality line up so I decided to run consevately in the early stages to see how the race developed,” said Moreira, who was fresh from a runner-up spot behind Dulce Felix at the Portuguese road running championships over 15km, 50:17 and 50:30 their respective times. 

“Luckily, I felt fine throughout and had enough strenght to win over the final sprint. My next race will be the European XC Cup for teams in Milan in two week’s time. I also plan the indoor season over 3000m and the World XC Championships in Punta Umbría. For the summer season I’ll tackle the 3000m Steeplechase event thinking of the Daegu World Championships.”

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

Leading Results -?
Men (10.8km):
?1. Leonard Komon (Kenya)   32:05
?2. Micah Kogo (Kenya)  32:14?
3. Sergey Lebid (Ukraine) 32:15?
4. Ricardo Serrrano (Spain)  32:40?
5. Miguel Ángel Barzola (Argentina)  32:41
?6. Javier Guerra (Spain)  32:43?
7. Jake Robertson (New Zealand)  33:01
?8. Youssef Aakou (Morocco)  33:04?
9. Rui Pedro Silva (Portugal) 33:08?
10. Javier Carriqueo  (Argentina)  33:09

??Women (6.6km):
?1. Sara Moreira (Portugal)  22:08?
2. Diana Martín (Spain)  22:09?
3. Gema Barrachina (Spain)  22:11
?4. Alessandra Aguilar (Spain)  22:23
?5. Emily Pidgeon (Great Britain)  22:27?
6. Ana Dulce Felix (Portugal)  22:35?
7. Ferhiwot Goshu (Ethiopia) 22:40
?8. Hanna Whitmore (Great Britain)  22:51?
9. Benita Willis (Australia)  22:59
?10. Sonia Bejarano (Spain) 23:04