Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris won the 83rd edition of the Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona on Sunday (15), two years after his first title at the IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting.
Edris, the fastest runner in the world over 5000m in 2014, crossed the finish-line in 33:50, beating Kenya’s Alex Kibet by nine seconds on a muddy and slippery course which made the race difficult.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Viola Jelagat, fifth at the World Mountain Race Championships last September, took a surprising win in 24:40, beating Portuguese cross-country specialist Ana Dulce Felix by 22 seconds.
On a rainy and cold day which made the course one of the muddiest courses in the past 30 editions of the Cinque Mulini, Edris was at one point down in 21st place during the first of five laps of the legendary course.
Edris, who took the bronze medal in the junior race at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, clawed his way back into the race and had moved up to fourth place during the second lap.
Thomas Lokomwa, a cross-country and road specialist who won the 2014 Stramilano Half Marathon, led a group of nine runners which included Edris, Kibet, and Diamond Race steeplechase winner Jairus Birech. They went through the 2km mark in 8:28.
Edris then went to the front going, through the third lap in 14:38 with a leading margin of nine seconds over the chasing group. He really took control of the race from 3km onwards and started to make the pace at the front.
By the end of the fourth lap, Kibet, who won the past two editions of the IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in Brussels, had closed the gap to six seconds, 21:02 to 21:08.
Edris went through the fifth lap mark in 27:25 before increasing his lead over Kibet once more. The 21-year-old held on to cross the finish-line in 33:50, nine seconds ahead of Kibet.
Birech, the fastest steeplechaser of 2014 with 7:58.41, completed the African sweep by finishing third in 34:08.
Yassine Rachik, who won the 1500m and 3000m titles at the Italian Under-23 Indoor Championships last week, was the first European runner, finishing fifth in 34:38, one second ahead of European 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Krystian Zalewski.
“I managed to win but it was a very hard race. It was too cold, said Edris.
Kibet repeated his runner-up finish from last year when he was beaten by Paul Tanui in different weather conditions. “The course was too muddy,” he said. “I finished second last year but then the race was better than today.”
Jelagat runs away from Felix
A leading quartet formed by Britain’s Caryl Jones, Italian steeplechase champion Valeria Roffino, Kenya’s Viola Jelagat and Uganda’s Mercy Chelangat took the lead in the early stages.
Ana Dulce Felix, the 2012 European 10,000m champion, ran more conservatively at the start and was nine seconds behind the leading pack on the first lap.
With 6:42 on the clock, Felix caught Jelagat. Both athletes then surged, opening an 11-second gap over Chelangat and Roffino after three laps.
Jelagat forced the pace, pulling away from Felix by 30 metres on the penultimate lap and held on to win the 6.45km race in 24:40. Felix finished 22 seconds behind, while Roffino became the first Italian since Elena Romagnolo in 2012 to reach the Cinque Mulini podium, finishing third in 25:10. Chelangat was fourth in 25:22.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Muktar Edris (ETH) 33:50
2 Alex Kibet (KEN) 33:59
3 Jairus Birech (KEN) 34:08
4 Olivier Irabaruta (BDI) 34:16
5 Yassine Rachik (ITA) 34:38
6 Krystian Zalewski (POL) 34:39
7 Dewi Griffiths (GBR) 35:00
8 Bernadr Dematteis (ITA) 35:11
9 Thomas Lokomwa (KEN) 35.41
10 Manuel Cominotto (ITA) 35:41
1 Viola Jelagat (KEN) 24:40
2 Ana Dulce Felix (POR) 25:02
3 Valeria Roffino (ITA) 25:10
4 Mercy Chalangat (UGA) 25:22
5 Caryl Jones (GBR) 25:30
6 Gloria Barale (ITA) 25:36
7 Martina Merlo (ITA) 25:40
8 Alice Gaggi (ITA) 26:19
9 Camille Marchese (ITA) 27:11
10 Claudia Finielli (ITA) 27:11