Irene Cheptai en route to winning the Almond Blossom Cross Country (Organisers) © Copyright
Report Albufeira, Portugal

Cheptai and Crippa cruise to Almond Blossom titles

Turkish clubs won three of the four team titles on offer while Yemaneberhan Crippa and Irene Cheptai took the individual senior honours at the European Cross Country Clubs Cup, which doubled as this year’s Almond Blossom Cross Country IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in Albufeira, Portugal, on Sunday (5).

In the women’s race, Kenyan Irene Cheptai won the contest for the third time to lead Üsküdar Belediye to the team crown.

Cheptai forced the pace from the gun with only Stephanie Twell of Great Britain, the European 5000m bronze medallist, hanging on until she was overtaken on the final lap by Spanish champion Trihas Gebre and Esma Aydemir of Turkey, who wound up finishing second and third behnd Cheptai.

“I’m very happy after winning this competition for the third consecutive year, said Cheptai, who won by 22 seconds.

“I will now go prepare for next month’s World Cross Country Championships. I need to be very prepared for the Kenyan trials, a very tough competition.”

Uskudar Belediye also won for the third straight year, topping Spanish club Bilbao by 10 points. British club Aldershot, Farnham and District finished third. 

Crippa surprises

The men’s senior race played out much differently.

Rabah Aboud of Algeria, representing the host team Sporting for the first time, was out to make his debut a memorable one. The 36-year-old controlled the race for the first half, with Spaniard Ayad Lamdassem, Crippa and Turk Ramazan Ozdemirhe tagging along.

But Crippa took over in the second half and went on to take the victory in 30:04, nine seconds clear of Aboud.

“I didn’t prepare especially for this race,” said Crippa, who has trained for the past month in Monte Gordo, another Algarve town, in the south of Portugal. “I’m looking towards track competitions, those are my goals."

Crippa, who turned 20 last October, was eighth in the 5000m at last summer’s European Championships.

Lamdassam was a distant third, another 19 seconds behind Aboud.

Istanbul BBSK took the team crown with 37 points, eight points ahead of host Sporting CP who competed for the first time since 1998. The Lisbon club has 14 titles to its credit and now six runner-up finishes. French team Cévennes was fourth behind the Spanish team Bikila.

Both U20 individual races were fiercely fought battles.

Spanish club Playas de Castellon won the men’s U20 race with Ramazan Barbaros of Turkey’s Fenerbahce edging Spaniard Mario Garcia for the individual title. Turkish club Bursa Belediye won the women’s U20 crown with Anna Mark Helwig of Denmark taking the individual title over Pinar Dermitas. In both races the top two finishers were credited with the same time.

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF

Leading results

Senior men
1 Yemaneberhan Crippa (Fiamme Oro – ITA) 30:04
2 Rabah Aboud (Sporting – POR) 30:13
3 Ayad Lamdassem (Bikila – ESP) 30:32
4 Ramazan Özdemir (Istanbul BBSK – TUR) 30:34
5 Matthias Kyburz (LG Basel – SUI) 30:34
6 Frédéric Tranchand (Turun – FIN) 30:36

Teams
1 Istanbul BBSK (TUR) 37
2 Sporting CP (POR) 45
3 Bikila (ESP) 76


Senior women

1 Irene Cheptai (Üsküdar Belediye – TUR) 20:18
2 Trihas Gebre (Bilbao – ESP) 20:40
3 Esma Aydemir (Bursa Büyüksehir – TUR) 20:43
4 Steph Twell (Aldershot FD AC – GBR) 20:54
5 Özlem Kaya (Üsküdar Belediye – TUR) 20:56
6 Ancuta Bobocel (Bilbao – ESP) 20:58

Teams
1 Uskudar Belediye (TUR) 26
2 Bilbao (ESP) 36
3 Aldershot Farnham & District (GBR) 43


U20 men
1 Ramazan Barbaros (Fenerbahce – TUR) 19:10
2 Mario Garcia (Playas Castellon – ESP) 19:10
3 Omer Oti (Fenerbahce – TUR) 19:15

Teams
1 Playas de Castellon (ESP) 33
2 Fenerbahce (TUR) 41
3 Darica (TUR) 69


U20 women

1 Anna Mark Helwig (Sparta – DEN) 13:29
2 Pinar Dermitas (Fenerbahce – TUR) 13:29
3 Gulnaz Uskun (Bursa – TUR) 13:33

Teams
1 Bursa Buyuksehir (TUR) 31
2 Fenerbahce (TUR) 32
3 Sparta (DEN) 39