Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadesse was the overwhelming victor in the ‘25th Cross Internacional Castellano-Manchego’ on Sunday (6), as the new Spanish cross country season got underway.
MEN – double Eritrean success
From the gun it was the Spanish trio of twice European XC silver medallist Juan Carlos de la Ossa, European 5000m champion Alberto García and Ricardo Serrano who made most of the early pace with the Eritrean duo of Zersenay Tadesse and Tesfayohannes Mesfen also in the leading group.
The key movement of the 9km race occurred at halfway when García, Tadesse and Mesfen broke away and built a comfortable gap over their pursuers. With 3 kilometres to go it became clear that World Cross Country long race silver medallist Tadesse would be the eventual winner, as firstly García and later Mesfen could not live with the 23-year-old Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist’s brisk pace.
Tadesse’s winning margin was 20 seconds (25:21-25:41) over Mesfen, who placed 12th at the World Half Marathon Championships on 1 October in a PB of 63:08. After the Eritrean 1-2, the domestic fight to be the top Spaniard was won by De la Ossa who finished in overall third, 29 seconds behind the winner, with Serrano finally overtook a fading García for fourth.
“My plan was to run conservatively, as I only resumed training three weeks ago after the long 2005 (track) season and subsequent period of rest,” confirmed Tadesse. “The Spaniards pushed hard from the start but I always had the race under control. My manager is still negotiating my presence in Soria (EAA XC Permit) next 20 November but for sure I will be competing at the ‘Jean Bouin’ (10km on road in Barcelona) the following Sunday 27 November.”
Tadesse’s last competitive appearance had been at the Great North Run in Newcastle, England (18 September) when he ran the fastest ever half marathon time, 59:05, though the course was overall too much downhill for the time to be allowable as a World record.
WOMEN - Ochichi prevents another Eritrean win
The women’s 6km race saw a fierce duel between Kenya’s Olympic 5000m silver medallist Isabella Ochichi and the unheralded Eritrean Simret Sultan. From the early stages both Africans took command of the race and remarkably left the other top names - Poland’s European XC silver medallist Justyna Bak and the Portuguese pair of Analía Rosa and Ana Días - well behind.
It was the 21-year-old Sultan who had the burden of setting the pace with Ochichi, the bronze medallist in the short race at the last World Cross Country Championships, always at her shoulder. The Eritrean held on until the last 50m with the 26-year-old Ochichi claiming a narrow win in 20:40 over her. Sultan was timed in 20:41.
So frantic was the pace that the leading duo had set that no less than 45 seconds separated them from third placer Analía Rosa, while Bak, the former World 3000m Steeplechase record holder, had to settle for fourth another five seconds behind.
A sweet reward!
After yesterday’s performance Sultan could well be regarded as a newcomer to the world cross country elite. She is based in Madrid and is coached - like her compatriots Tadesse and Mesfen - by Jerónimo Bravo. In her first year in the Spanish capital, Sultan reduced the Eritrean 5000m record to 15:18.69 in Rome (8 July) from a pre-2005 best of 16:09.48.
Both winners, Tadesse and Ochichi received their respective weights (55kg and 44kg) in wine and chocolates, the typical products from Quintanar.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
Men (9 km)
1. Zersenay Tadesse (Eri) 25:21
2. Tesfayoshanes Mesfen (Eri) 25:41
3. Juan Carlos de la Ossa (Esp) 25:50
4. Ricardo Serrano (Esp) 25:55
5. Alberto García (Esp) 26:07
6. Iván Galán (Esp) 26:15
7. José Ríos (Esp) 26:25
8. Eliseo Martín (Esp) 26:25
1. Isabella Ochichi (Ken) 20:40
2. Simret Sultan (Eri) 20:41
3. Analía Rosa (Por) 21:25
4. Justyna Bak (Pol) 21:30
5. Ana Días (Por) 21:37
6. Rosa Morató (Esp) 21:37
7. Diana Martín (Esp) 21:38
8. Silvia Montané (Esp) 21:55