Tilburg, Netherlands, December 09— Rain off-and-on throughout the day at the tail end of a very rainy week saturated the course for the European Cross Country Championships, which was lined with 8000 spectators. On a cold, wet and breezy day the men’s race was a 10.3K affair over a loop somewhat torn up by this sixth race of the day. In many stretches, runners had to negotiate standing water, thick mud, and of course, the logs and undulating hills.
Men’s Title To Filip Ingebrigtsen
Spain’s Adel Mechaal, last year’s runner-up, did much of the early pace work in the large front-end pack. It wasn’t until after the third kilo that Filip Ingebrigtsen made his way to the front. The Norwegian, in his first harrier race of the season, battled with Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli, Mechaal and the Turkish pair of Aras Kaya and Kaan Kigen Özbilen, the defending champion.
Around 7K, Ingebrigtsen slipped and while he didn’t fall, he dropped out of the lead pack. Özbilen took over and tried to run away from Kaya and Mechaal. Soon the Spaniard dropped and Kimeli made his way back to the leaders, leaving Ingebrigtsen behind. The breakaway didn’t last long, Ingebrigtsen rejoining the leaders a few hundred meters later. On the final lap, the Norwegian’s power could not be denied, as he increased his pace to string out his pursuers.
Confident enough to celebrate before the line, the 25-year-old Ingebrigtsen had time to kiss both his biceps as he raised his arms in victory before crossing in 28:49. Kimeli took second in 28:52 with Kaya (28:56) and Özbilen (29:04) nailing down a team win for the Turks. With 14 points and a 3-4-7 finish, Turkey demolished Britain’s 34 (9-12-13) and Italy’s 37 (6-11-20).
Said the victor, who had competed in the younger categories in previous years and had never broken into the top 20, “To come here and win the Senior race with this level of athletes is something that I didn’t dream of before. I stayed with the lead group and one-by-one they started to drop.”
Third-placer Kaya, who admitted he struggled with the mud, quipped, “The race was not that bad, but it was not that good.”
It would be a double gold day for the Ingebrigtsens, as younger brother Jakob handily won the Junior (U20) race, passing through 5K in 14:25 before kicking to a 9-second win in 18:00 for the 6.3K course. It was his third straight win in the race, and he’s still eligible again next year.
Threepeat For Yasemin Can
Yasemin Can captured her third straight title, but this time the 21-year-old Turk, a Kenyan by birth, had to sprint to the wire to stay ahead of surprising Fabienne Schlumpf of Switzerland. Schlumpf got out fast and for the first kilo led alongside Germany’s Elena Burkard and Susan Krumins of the Netherlands. Can took her time working her way up to the leaders and finally took over just after that first kilo.
Throughout the next few laps, Can laid down surges that would bring her up to a 15-20m lead at times over the chase pack, led by Krumins. At 5K, Schlumpf, the Euro runner-up in the steeplechase, began a long drive that left Krumins behind. The Swiss pulled ahead of Can before the 6K mark. That initiated a see-saw battle with the two trading the lead five more times over the final circuit. Near the end, a fast-closing Karoline Grøvdal of Norway joined the two leaders.
The three sprinted for the finish, with Can pulling ahead, her arms flailing as she successfully defended her crown in 26:05. Schlumpf (26:06) and Grøvdal (26:07) followed, the Norwegian placing 3rd for the second-straight year. Said Can, “The race wasn’t very easy, mostly because of the wind. I wasn’t 100% this season, but now I think I’m coming back.”
In the team contest—with the top 3 athletes on each squad scoring—Netherlands scored 20 on a 4-5-11 finish, beating Britain’s 24 (7-8-9) and Germany’s 50 (6-19-25).
EURO XC MEN’S RESULTS
1. Turkey 14; 2. Great Britain 34; 3. Italy 37; 4. Spain 38; 5. Belgium 38.
1. Filip Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 28:49; 2. Isaac Kimeli (Bel) 28:52; 3. Aras Kaya (Tur) 28:56; 4. Kaan Kigen Özbilen (Tur) 29:04; 5. Napoleon Solomon (Swe) 29:12; 6. Yemaneberhan Crippa (Ita) 29:14; 7. Polat Kemboi Arikan (Tur) 29:14; 8. Adel Mechaal (Spa) 29:20; 9. Marc Scott (GB) 29:21; 10. Seán Tobin (Ire) 29:22; 11. Daniele Meucci (Ita) 29:26; 12. Kristian Jones (GB) 29:28; 13. Dewi Griffiths (GB) 29:31; 14. Antonio Abadía (Spa) 29:35; 15. Robin Hendrix (Bel) 29:36; 16. Daniel Mateo (Spa) 29:40; 17. Charlie Hulson (GB) 29:43; 18. Henrik Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 29:45; 19. Ole Hesselbjerg (Den) 29:46; 20. Nekagenet Crippa (Ita) 29:47.
EURO XC WOMEN’S RESULTS
1. The Netherlands 20; 2. Great Britain 24; 3. Germany 50; 4. France 70; 5. Sweden 80.
1. Yasemin Can (Tur) 26:05; 2. Fabienne Schlumpf (Swi) 26:06; 3. Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (Nor) 26:07; 4. Susan Krumins (Neth) 26:16; 5. Jip Vastenburg (Neth) 26:45; 6. Elena Burkard (Ger) 26:53; 7. Charlotte Arter (GB) 26:57; 8. Melissa Courtney (GB) 26:59; 9. Pippa Woolven (GB) 27:02; 10. Jess Piasecki (GB) 27:03; 11. Maureen Koster (Neth) 27:08; 12. Trihas Gebre (Spa) 27:16; 13. Charlotta Fougberg (Swe) 27:17; 14. Anna Gosk (Pol) 27:20; 15. Kate Avery (GB) 27:20; 16. Liv Westphal (Fra) 27:20; 17. Marie Bouchard (Fra) 27:21; 18. Maja Moller Alm (Den) 27:22; 19. Fabienne Amrhein (Ger) 27:26; 20. Verity Ockenden (GB) 27:30.