Dublin is set to host the 27th edition of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships on Sunday 12 December. These championships return to Ireland after a successful edition in 2009.
Men’s senior race:
Olympic 1500 metres champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen will make his debut in the senior men’s race at the European Cross Country Championships in Fingal-Dublin. The 21-year-old Norwegian star won four consecutive European Under 20 Cross Country individual titles in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. He also led Norway to the European under 20 team title in Tilburg 2018. During a very successful track season Ingebrigtsen set two European records in the 1500m with 3:28.32 in the Olympic final and in the 5000m with 12:48.45 at the Diamond League meeting in Florence.
Jakob will line-up against his brother Filip, who won the senior European Cross Country title in Tilburg 2018, the European 1500m title in Amsterdam 2016 and the world 1500m bronze medal.
The Norwegian team will also feature Zerei Kbrom, who improved Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s national 10 km record with 27:39 in Valencia earlier this year.
Italian 3000m, 5000m and 10000m record holder Yeman Crippa will be looking to win his second European Cross Country senior medal two years after winning the silver medal in Lisbon in 2019. Crippa is aiming to become the second Italian runner to win the senior men’s European Cross Country gold medal after Andrea Lalli in 2012. The Italian runner of Ethiopian origin also won two under 20 gold medals in 2014 and 2015 and two under 23 bronze medals in 2016 and 2017. Crippa prepared for the European Cross Country Championships with a training period in Iten (Kenya), where he remained until 9 December.
Three-time European Under 23 cross country champion Jimmy Gressier from France will make his debut in the senior race. Gressier also led France to three consecutive European Under 23 team gold medals in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and won two European Under 23 gold medals in the 5000m and 10000m in Gavle 2019. The 24-year-old Frenchman finished 13th in the 5000m final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 13:11.33 and set his lifetime best of 13:08.99 over this distance in Huelva last June.
France also features Hugo Hay, who won the European Under 23 team gold medal three times and two individual medals (silver in 2017 and bronze in 2018 behind Gressier).
Jack Rowe leads the British team after winning the National cross country Trials in Liverpool. Great Britain is the most successful nation in European Cross Country Championships with 65 gold medals and a total of 158 medals.
Julien Wanders will be aiming to win his second consecutive European Cross Country medal two years after finishing third in Lisbon 2019. Wanders leads a Swiss team that also features Jonas Raess, who recently won the Tilburg race on the course which hosted the 2018 European Cross Country Championships.
Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli will be chasing his second individual medal three years after finishing runner-up to Filip Ingebrigtsen in Tilburg. Kimeli also claimed the under 23 gold medal in 2016 ahead of Carlos Mayo and Amanal Petros. The Belgian athlete of kenyan origin won the European Indoor silver medal behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 3000m in Torun last March and ran the second fastest time in the 10000m by a European athlete clocking 27:22.70 in Stockolm.
The Belgian team also features former European Under 20 cross country champion Pietar-Jan Hannes and Michael Somers, who beat Kimeli in the Roeselare Cross Country race.
Men’s under 23 race:
Florian Le Pallac and Valentin Goundouin carry the hopes of the French team after winning the silver and bronze medal respectively in the 10000 metres at the European Under 23 Championships in Tallin last July. France won the under 23 team title for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019 and is looking to continue the tradition in this age category even without Gressier and Hay, who have now graduated to the senior category.
The Spanish team features Eduardo Menacho, who won the European Under 23 gold medal in the 10000m in Tallin ahead of Le Pallac and Goundouin, and US based Aaron Las Heras, who won the European Under 20 gold medal in the 5000m in 2019.
Darragh McElhinney carry the best Irish hopes for a medal in this category.
The top names in the Portuguese team are Etson Barros, who won the European Under 23 silver medal in Tallin 2021, Isaac Nader, who surprisingly won the 1500m race at the European Team Championships in Chorzow last May.
Nahuel Carrabana won the first major medal for Andorra at the European Under 23 Championships in the 3000m steeplechase in Tallin last summer.
Men’s under 20 race:
European Under 20 champion Nick Griggs will lead the Irish hopes in this age group category.
Griggs, who will turn 17 on 16 December, won the 3000m title at the European under 20 Championships in Tallin last summer. Last month he won the national under 20 cross country title.
Ireland won two individual bronze medals with Garrett Turnbull in 1998 and Efrem Gidey in 2019.
This year’s 3000m steeplechase European Under 20 champion Paul Oriach leads the Spanish team. Oriach won a Junior cross country race at the World Cross Country Tour Gold race in Atapuerca this autumn season and improved his PB to 3:37.67 in the 1500m last summer when he was 18. He finished 13th as a 17-year-old athlete at the 2019 European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon. The Spanish team also features David Cantero, who won the silver medal in the 5000m at the European Under 20 Championships.
Another continental medallist in the field is Joel Ibler Lilleso from Denmark, who won the 5000m title at the European Under 20 Championships in Tallin. Denmark also features 17-year-old Axel Vang, who won the silver medal at the European Under 20 Championships in the 3000m steeplechase behind Oriach.
Abdullahi Dahir Rabi won the Nordic Cross Country Championships last November beating Vang and Lilleso last November and clocked 13:49.88 in the 5000m. Rabi arrived in Norway several years ago as a refugee from Somalia before getting Norwegian citizenship last September.
Great Britain, Spain and Ireland are the strongest medal contenders.