The Cross Internacional de Soria returns to the IAAF Cross Country Permit series after a seven-year break and will celebrate its silver jubilee 25th edition on Sunday (18).
The race’s home, the Monte Valonsadero circuit, is a beautiful forest on the outskirts of Soria, well known for having been a frequent training venue for 1992 Olympic 1500m champion Fermín Cacho and 1997 and 1999 world marathon champion Abel Antón.
Last year’s victor, Jacob Kiplimo, will undoubtedly be the marquee athlete on Sunday. The world U20 cross-country champion is fresh from a commanding win in Atapuerca last Sunday and should be regarded as the overwhelming favourite. The Ugandan turned 18 earlier this week and will be eager to enjoy birthday celebrations in Soria.
Fellow teenage prodigy Edward Zakayo looks set to be Kiplimo’s toughest opponent. The Kenyan won the world U20 5000m title in Tampere earlier this year as Kiplimo settled for sixth place. But Kiplimo got the better of the 16-year-old in Atapuerca, where Zakayo finished third, 15 seconds behind Kiplimo.
Timothy Toroitich and Teklemariam Medhin should also challenge for podium places. Toroitich managed a hat trick of victories between 2014 and 2016 and finished runner-up last year. The 27-year-old Ugandan will be keen to achieve a fifth consecutive podium finish on Sunday.
Medhin of Eritrea returned to action in Atapuerca last weekend after an 18-month halt because of recurrent injuries. The 2010 world cross-country silver medallist finished ninth in Atapuerca but the Madrid-based athlete should be more of a factor on Sunday.
The Spanish contingent includes Toni Abadía, Javier Guerra and Daniel Mateo. Abadía made a promising half marathon debut last month in Valencia with 1:01:15 before finishing 13th in Atapuerca. Mateo, meanwhile, is based in Soria and will be running in front of his home crowd.
Kite’s time to shine
Kenya’s Gloria Kite appears the athlete to beat after showing good form in Atapuerca where she finished a creditable fourth, just eight seconds adrift the winner.
The 19-year-old should prevail over Sweden’s Meraf Bahta whom she beat by 36 seconds last weekend.
Denmark’s European U23 steeplechase champion Anna Emilie Moller, who finished seventh at the European Championships in a PB of 9:31.66, should also be a factor. The 21-year-old has won in Cardiff and Reykjavik so far this season and will be joined on the start line by fellow steeplechase specialist Valeria Roffino of Italy.
Notable past victors in Soria include the likes of Ethiopia’s 2000 Olympic 5000m champion Million Wolde, Kenya’s 2001 world 10,000m champion Charles Kamathi, 1997 world 10,000m champion Sally Barsosio, Eritrea’s 2007 world cross-country champion Zersenay Tadese, 2010 world cross-country champion Joseph Ebuya and 2009 world 10,000m champion Linet Masai.
Weather forecasters predict a cloudy day on Sunday with a 75% chance of rain and a temperatures ranging between 7-9C by the time of the event.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF