Teyiba Erkesso of Ethiopia wins at the IRIS Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels (Mark Shearman) © Copyright
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Powerful wins for Chepkok and Erkesso in Brussels

Brussels, BelgiumBernard Chepkok stormed through the finish line as a surprise men’s winner of the IRIS Lotto Cross Cup - IAAF XC permit - meeting in Brussels today (17). Continuous rain on Saturday (16) had made the course extremely muddy and difficult.

The 22-year-old Kenyan broke away from the leading group in the penultimate lap and turned his solo effort into an emphatic triumph. Teyiba Erkesso was totally exhausted when she crossed the line victoriously in the women’s race. The Ethiopian withstood a tough challenge from Hungary’s Aniko Kalovics.

More than 3000 athletes gathered in and around Osseghem Park this afternoon. World class cross country running goes hand in hand with popular 5K and 10K runs held during the morning programme. The park is situated alongside the road that leads to the Atomium building, which is the most eyecatching landmark on the Brussels skyline.

MEN - Europeans beaten down by the Africans

Pieter Desmet delighted the local fans when he took the lead in the first of the seven laps. A leading group of six athletes was formed after this move by the young Belgian. Ukraine’s Sergey Lebid had a very bad start and it took some time before he could close the gap with the leaders. Ethiopian Tadesse Tola Woldegebrel, and Kenyans Moses Kigen and Bernard Chepkok kept the pace high and, surprisingly enough, Britain’s Mo Farah was the first victim. The European champion dropped back into the first chasing group but dramatically faded at the halfway mark of the race.

Portugal’s Fernando Silva and early leader Desmet lost contact when Chepkok accelerated once more on the steepest section of the course. With four candidates left and Lebid always trailing at the back, Chepkok changed into higher gear again, and the race was effectively over. Suddenly, Lebid stopped for ten seconds to do some breathing exercises and was ultimately forced to settle for fourth place.

In the penultimate lap Chepkok broke away from his remaining opponents and took his first major victory on the international level. Kigen outsprinted Woldegebrel for second place, and Silva secured fifth place ahead of Desmet.

Chepkok unveils his goals

Chepkok, 22, has a 13:11.07 PB for the track 5000m (Hengelo, 2004) and a 13:11.16 season’s best (Berlin ISTAF), but his immediate goals lie with cross country running.

“The conditions were very difficult and the competitors were tough, but all the time I believed that I could win this race,” said Chpkok. “I felt very strong today. To be in the Kenyan team for Mombasa (World XC Champs) is a dream, but qualifying will be very tough. Next summer, I hope to develop into a world class 5000m athlete.”

“The result is good for me”, said fourth placed Lebid, “but I had the same physical (breathing) problems as I had last Sunday (at European XC Champs) . But I’m not looking back anymore. That’s life and things continue. It is unlikely that I will participate in the World Cross Country Championships next year, but who knows? I will check my form and my health in January and I’ll decide on my programme then.”


WOMEN - Erkesso has the strength and the stamina

Aniko Kalovics of Hungary took off a furious pace in the women’s race. She was chased by a group including Portugal’s Analia Rosa, Belgian Veerle Dejaeghere, Briton Hayley Yelling, and the Ethiopians Genet Getaneh and Teyiba Erkesso.

Of these pursuers only Erkesso could close in on the early leader, and as she did Uganda’s Dorcus Inzikuru, one of the race favourites fell completely behind having lost one of her running spikes in the mud and she never managed to engage herself in the race.

In the duel for victory, Kalovics was worn down by Erkesso, who imposed a steady pace. Gradually the Ethiopian built up her advantage on the Hungarian to secure a second consecutive win in Brussels but immediately after the race showed signs of exhaustion and had to be taken care of by the Red Cross.

“This course is extremely difficult”, said Erkesso afterwards, still suffering a lot. “Kalovics made it a tough exercise from the very beginning. She is very strong and it was not easy to catch up with her. I am very happy that I could finally win, but it was much harder than last year. It’s still early days in the season, don’t ask me about the World Championships now. Of course I hope to be in the team for my country, but there is still a long way to go.”

Kalovics was excited about her performance. “Things went fine today, I’m happy with my race. I’m very tall and on this course I was in trouble with my stride pattern all the time. This is no revenge for what happened last week. I didn’t win the European title, but I was very close to the medals, I did the best I could. I have a very busy programme now. Coming next is a 5K road race in Bolzano and then I’m in for four races on the Spanish cross country circuit.”

Rosa took third place ahead of Dejaeghere and Ireland's Fionuala Briton.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF


Results

Men
1. Bernard Chepkok (KEN) 33:24
2. Moses Kigen (KEN) 33:43
3. Tadesse Tola Woldegebrel (ETH) 33:45
4. Sergey Lebid (UKR) 34:13
5. Fernando Silva (POR) 34:31
6. Pieter Desmet (BEL) 34:32
7. Steve Vernon (GBR) 34:38
8. Mustapha Essaid (FRA) 34:38 (same as 7th)

Women
1. Teyiba Erkesso (ETH) 21:37
2. Aniko Kalovics (HUN) 21:35
3. Analia Rosa (POR) 21:38
4. Veerle Dejaeghere (BEL) 21:39
5. Fionuala Briton (IRL) 21:39 (same as 5th)
6. Genet Getaneh (ETH) 21:41
7. Hayley Yelling (GBR) 21:41 (same as 6th)
8. Caroline Chepkwony (KEN) 21:57

For full results click here -http://www.sport.be/lottocrosscup/2006/nl/brussel/