European U23 5000m champion Megan Keith convincingly won the senior women’s race at the Cardiff Cross Challenge on Saturday (11), en route to the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Brussels on December 10.
On a muddy and technical course which is not very different from that which awaits the riders at Laeken Park next month, Keith set a strong pace and the 21-year-old did not relinquish the lead once.
She ended up winning the 6.4km race in 20:35 by almost 100 meters ahead of Spain-based Ethiopian Likina Amebew (20:52) and Ethiopian teenager Asmarech Anley third in 20:59.
“It’s always good to focus on something during the winter months and the Euro Cross is a good goal to have on the calendar,” said Keith, reported by Athletics weeky.
After sprinting to the U20 title at the 2021 SPAR European Cross Country Championships, Keith moved up to the U23 ranks last year and came away with individual silver behind Italy’s Nadia Battocletti and a gold medal in the team race.
And with Battocletti moving up to the senior ranks this year, Keith – who broke the 15-minute 5000m mark for the first time this summer – will be the hot favorite to take his individual silver to gold in the Belgian capital next month.
Jess Warner-Judd, world eighth in the 10,000m, finished fifth in her first race since the track season in 21:29, just ahead of 18-year-old Dane Sofia Thøgersen – one of the favorites for the U20 title at the SPAR European Championships. Cross Country Championships – who finished seventh in 21:38.
In the men’s 9.6km event won by another 18-year-old, Ugandan Kenneth Kiprop, in 28:32, European U23 cross-country silver medalist Zakariya Mahamed was the best of the Brits – and the best of the Europeans – in fourth position in 29.:19.
Elsewhere, the precocious Innes Fitzgerald – who finished fourth in the U20 race at last year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships – won the U17/U20 combined 4.45km by over a 14 minute: 50.
At Italica Cross On Sunday in Seville, Spaniard Mohamed Katir, world silver medalist in the 5000m, finished fifth in the senior men’s 9.918km in 29:29 in a race won by Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi in 29:09.
European U20 1,500m and 5,000m champion Niels Laros, who is expected to make his debut in the U20 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships next month, finished 19th in 31:01.
European U20 cross country champion Maria Forero finished sixth in the women’s 9.918km in 35:06.
Gega wins Balkan cross-country title
Albanian Luiza Gega demonstrated her versatility by winning her fifth Balkan title of the season on three different surfaces at the Balkan Cross Country Championships in Pirdop, Bulgaria, on Saturday (11).
Having already won the Balkan 3000m, 5000m, 3000m steeplechase and half marathon titles this year, Gega added the cross country title to her list of accolades, winning the senior women’s 8km title in 27:16 with a clear lead over the Bulgarian Devora Avramova in 27:45.
In the senior men’s 10km, Ivo Balabanov took home victory in 30:44 – becoming the first Bulgarian to win this title since 1989 – ahead of Turkey’s Ramazan Bastug in 30:56.
Turkey also won both senior team titles and dominated the medal table in imposing fashion, winning nine of the 12 titles on offer across all groups.