Kiprono Menjo taking the Almond Blossom Cross (Almond Blossom organisers) © Copyright
Preview 4 March 2011 – Lisbon, Portugal – Two

Menjo the man to beat in Albufeira – Almond Blossom XC PREVIEW

Lisbon, PortugalTwotime winner Josephat Kiprono Menjo of Kenya will be the man to beat at Sunday’s (6) Almond Blossom Cross in Albufeira, Portugal, the final IAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting in 2011.

Menjo, who won the race in 2008 and 2009 and was the fastest man in the world over 10,000m in 2010, will once again be chasing glory on of the most beautiful Cross Country courses in the world.

Standing in the way to his third victory will be Yuri Abramov, the 2010 Russian national Marathon champion. The field also includes Russians Sergey Lukin, Evgeniy Ryzhov and Andrey Karpin along with Latvia’s Valery Zolnerovich and Norwegian Vetle Aasland.

Two weeks after Portugal’s national Cross Country championship, the surprise runner-up Marco Morgado is the principal name among the locals, along with José Rocha and Nuno Costa, who were third and fourth, respectively, at the nationals, and who will represent Portugal at the World Cross Country Championships later this month.

The field also includes Manuel Damião and Licínio Pimentel, fifth and sixth at the national Cross Country Championships, who both represent Conforlimpa, the European Team Cross Country champion.

Dias to take on Olympic medallists

In the considerably stronger women’s field, local girl Ana Dias – who was born in Algarve – is the most experienced entrant on the Albufeira course, where the 2010 European championships were held and where she was a member of the gold medal winning team. Dias, who finished third at the recent national championships, will take on former national champion Analia Rosa.

But their opposition will be fierce. Gulnara Samitova – Galkina of Russia and Kenyan Eunice Jepkorir, the 2008 Olympic 3000m Steeplechase gold and silver medallists, top the field. They’ll be joined by Russian Anna Alminova, the reigning European 1500m indoor champion who also boasts strong 5000m credentials.

Other names to watch include Latvia’s Inna Poluskina, Irishwoman Fionnuala Britton, Hungary’s Aniko Kalovics and Norwegian
Minna-Maria Kangas.

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF