Rodrigue Kwizera from Burundi and Likina Amebaw from Ethiopia triumphed at the Cross Internacional de Soria, the fifth leg of the World Cross Country Tour Gold. The traditional Spanish race was held at an altitude of 1100 metres on a sunny day. Both races were decided by thrilling sprint finishes.
Kwizera won the men’s race in 25:37 sharing the same time as Hillary Chepkwony. Kwizera pulled away from Chepkowny, who pushed until the final metres.
Martin Kiprotich from Uganda completed the third place in 25:41 with a two-second lead over Ouassim Oumaiz, who was the top Spanish athlete in fourth place in 25:43 three weeks before the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels (10 December).
Kwizera won the Soria race for the second time following his first triumph in 2021. Last year he was beaten by Thierry Ndikwemanayo, who had to settle with 10th place after sustaining an injury one month ago.
Kwizera and Ouassim Ouaziz led the large leading pack through the opening 1.5 km in 4:18. Kiprotich, Chepkwony and Nassim Hassaous from Spain followed closely in the chasing pack.
The leading pack was whittled down to ten athletes by the end of the first 2.5 km. Peter Kariuki from Kenya, Aron Kifle from Eritrea and Celestin Ndikumana from Burundi (winner in Amorebieta) lost the ground on the leading group.
Seven athletes were still in contention at the bell after a lap covered in 7:13. Ouamiz, Kiprotich, Chepkwony, Kwizera and Filmon Kibrom from Eritrea were in the lead. Hassaous and Sergio Paniagua from Spain were at the back of the leading pack, but they started to lose the ground with 300 metres to go. Kwizera and Chepkwony broke away from Oumaiz and Kiprotich.
Kwizera prevail by a close margin over half marathon specialist Chepkwony to win his first race of the season after finishing third in Atapuerca and Seville. Chepkwony took second place repeating the same result of last week’s race in Seville.
Rodrigue Kwizera: “I am so happy. It’s my first win this season. I decided to take a risk on the last bend, but that was the key, as I managed some valuable metres on Chepkwony, and could resist the late attack. I will run my next race in Alcobendas if I solve some visa issues”.
Ethiopia’s Likina Amebaw won the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold 8.8 km race in 29:44 beating her compatriot Asayech Ayichew by 2 seconds in the final sprint. Amebaw claimed her second win of the season in the World Cross Country Tour following her first place in Amorebieta last October.
Valentina Gemetto from Italy placed third in 30:04 one week after claiming a win in the Valmusone cross country race in Osimo (Italy). The Italian athlete held off Marta Garcia by five seconds.
Garcia was first among Spanish athletes in 30:11, claiming the win in the National Cross Country Club Championships ahead of her compatriots Carolina Robles (30:16) and Irene Sanchez Escribano (30:26).
Lucy Maiwa took the lead in the early stages of the race. Amebaw, Asayech, Gemetto, Alexia Zarbo from France and Fedra Luna from Argentina followed in the chasing group. The pace slowed down in the next kilometres. Spanish 3000 metres steeplechase Irene Sanchez Escribano went to the lead after the first 2.5 km, closely followed by Gemetto and Mawia.
Mawia took control of the race, but Sanchez Escribano and 2021 steeplechase finalist Carolina Robles regained the lead during the penultimate lap. Seven athletes remained in contention at the bell. Maiwa lost the ground and dropped out of the race.
Asayhech Ayichew stepped up the pace in the final kilometer leaving Gemetto behind. Amebaw launched her kick to take her second win of the season in 29:44.
Ethiopia has won the Soria Cross Country race for the first time since 2013, when Marta Tigabea took the honours. Kenya’s Lucy Maiwa, who won the past two editions in 2021 and 2022, withdrew from the race.
“Before the start I did not feel at my 100%, so I decided to see how the race would develop and not push too hard at any time. Luckily my tactics paid off. I will run in Alcobendas next week”.