Another big win for Hunegnaw Mesfin, this time at the Cinque Mulini on his 21st birthday (Lorenzo Sampaolo) © Copyright
General News 31 January 2010 – San Vittore Olona, Italy

Mesfin comes of age with 21st birthday victory at Cinque Mulini

San Vittore Olona, ItalyEthiopian Humegaw Mesfin took his second major Cross Country win this year at the 78th edition of the Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona on a sunny but chilly morning. 

It was a perfect birthday present for the 21-year-old Mesfin who grabbed the headlines on 10 January when he edged out reigning World Cross Country champion Gebre-Egziabher Gebremariam in  Amorebieta, Spain.

The women’s race went to reigning 1500m Olympic champion Nancy Langat who beat young Ethiopian Tizita Bogale by five seconds.

The Cinque Mulini is the seventh leg of the 2009/2010 IAAF Cross Country Permit meetings series in the lead-up to the 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz (Poland) on 28th March.

The new course moved the Cinque Mulini race closer to the legendary five mills. The choice of the organisers contributed to making the competitions more spectacular and attractive to the crowd along the course and made it a more typical Cross Country course with natural obstacles and a lot of ups and downs.

Mesfin’s birthday celebration - Men’s race

The men’s race developed from the early stages into a tussle between Mesfin and Abera Chane, winner of the Villa Lagarina Cross Country on 17 January, and Kenyan 3000m Steeplechase world silver medallist Richard Matelong. This trio broke away from the first lap leaving Vasyl Matvichuk from Ukraine and Juan Luis Barrios well behind. Chane went to the front during the second lap with 6:20 on the clock.

Mesfin kept the pace in the front during the third lap closely followed by Matelong and Chane. They went through the third lap in 11:48 with a gap of 25 seconds over the pair formed by Barrios and Matvichuk who battled it out for the top European spot.

With 13:20 on the clock Matelong took the lead briefly when the leading trio passed through the famous Mulino Meraviglia but none of the three top Africans seemed to take the initiative until the fifth and final lap when Mesfin broke away from Matelong with a decisive surge. The young Ethiopian, 10th at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, changed gears and increased his gap on the Kenyan over the last lap and took 14-second win in 28:03.

Mesfin is set to become a force to reckon with at the upcoming World Cross Country Championships. Mesfin brings back the Cinque Mulini win to Ethiopia which celebrated its last victory in 2002 when Cross Country legend Kenenisa Bekele triumphed when he was a 20-year-old rising star. After today’s 78th  edition Ethiopia prevails over Kenya by 12 wins to 11 in the direct clashes between the two powerhouses of cross country in San Vittore.

Chane, who was dropped when Mesfin launched his attack, tried to reduce his gap on Matelong in the final stages of the race but Matelong held on crossing the finish line in second place in 28:17 tp beat Chane by three seconds.

Matvichuk, who will run the Marathon at the European Championships in Barcelona next summer, finished and the top European in 29:24 holding off Barrios.

“It’s nice to celebrate my 21st birthday today with my second major win after Amorebieta,” Mesfin said. “My win over Gebremariam on 10 January was a big surprise. I will now go back to Ethiopia to prepare for the Ethiopian  Cross Country Championships to qualify for the World Cross Country Championships.”

Langat pleased with over-distance outing - Women’s race

Langat became the fourth Kenyan to take the win at this fabled contest which celebrated the 40th edition of its women’s race.

A leading pack formed by Langat, the two young Ethiopians Asmerawork Bekele and Tizila Bogale – who were first and second at the Villa Lagarina Cross Countrythis year - Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix and Great Britain’s Stephanie Twell went to the front in the early stages. Bekele was the first to be dropped and lost ground on the rest of the group during the first lap.

At three kilometres the top four - Bogale, Langat, Felix and Twell - broke away carving out a big margin over Bekele, who was dropped for good.

Langat and Bogale, who finished fifth in the 800m at the 2009 World Youth Championships, pulled away during the second and penultimate lap. Felix, sixth at the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin in December, dropped three-time European Junior Cross Country champion Stephanie Twell, who finished second here last year.

At the bell Langat broke away from Bogale and built her gap to five seconds over the Ethiopian and romped home in 19:25 beating Bogale by five seconds. Felix prevailed over Twell by 15 seconds in the fight for third place in 19:42.

“I feel great,” Langat said. “The course was wonderful but the race was very challenging with a lot of ups and downs. I am not planning to run other cross country races this year because my focus is to peak my form for the African Championships and the Commonwealth Games on the track.”

Roberta Brunet, the Olympic bronze medallist in the 5000m in Atlanta 1996, was the special guest invited by the organizers.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

MEN (9.8 km) -
 1. Humegaw Mesfin, ETH     28:03
 2. Richard Matelong, KEN   28:12
 3. Adere Chane, ETH        28:20
 4. Vasil Matvichuk, UKR    29:24
 5. Juan Luis Barrios, POR  29:24
 6. Rachid Jarmouni, MAR    29:55
 7. Martin Dematteis, ITA   30:06
 8. Lhouissaine Oukrid, MAR 30:13
 9. Martin Dematteis, ITA   30:17
10. Ben Lindsay, GBR        30:25
WOMEN (6 km) -
 1. Nancy Langat, KEN         19:25
 2. Tizita Bogale, ETH        19:30
 3. Ana  Dulce Felix, POR     19:42
 4. Stephanie Twell, GBR      19:57
 5. Asmerawork Bekele, ETH    20:14
 6. Fatna Maraoui, ITA        20:32
 7. Valentina Belotti, ITA    20:43
 8. Emma Quaglia, ITA         20:50
 9. Federica Bevilacqua, ITA  21:01