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Report Brussels, Belgium

Henriques and Cheromei Win First Stage of IAAF World Cross Country Challenge

The winter's new series opened with two surprise winners as wintry weather tested high quality fields.

Eduardo Henriques became the first European to win the men's race in Heysel Park since 1990 - pushing into second place his Portuguese compatriot Paulo Guerra who beat him to the European title in Slovenia seven days ago. In third place was last year's winner Richard Limo from Kenya.

Henriques made his decisive effort up the hills on the penultimate lap of seven, opening a nine seconds lead over the three-time European champion, after the pair had broken away from Limo, Brown and Charles Kamathi, who was back in the city where he clocked the world's fastest 10,000m time this year (26:51.49 at the Memorial Van Damme meet).

The conditions were alien to the Kenyans with heavy blizzards punctuating the icy winds. But Henriques showed no ill effects from his run into second position in Velenje last week and made all of the pace.

The women's 6km race marked an amazing return to high class action for Lydia Cheromei, who won the World Junior Cross Country title in 1991.

Having missed all of last winter because "I just wanted to relax", the 23-year-old Kenyan struck off at such a fierce pace - her first two kilometers were timed at 3:20 and 3:18 - that she had a lead of 16 seconds by halfway and virtually jogged to victory 22 seconds ahead of Ayelech Worku, the Ethiopian who was third in the World Championships 5000m in the summer, with Jackline Maranga, the world 4km cross champion, a further three seconds down in third place.

European Championships silver medallist Constantia Dita from Romania held on for fourth ahead of Ireland's Catherina McKiernan, the four-time IAAF World Cross Challenge winner, who was returning to action after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury. She reported herself "very, very happy" to have conquered such difficult conditions and "to beat so many of the girls."

Trevor Frecknall for the IAAF