Previews04 Jan 2024

Ebenyo and Battocletti on hunt for Campaccio crowns


Daniel Simiu Ebenyo (© AFP / Getty Images)

Kenya’s Daniel Simiu Ebenyo starts as the pre-event men’s race favourite at the 67th edition of the Campaccio-International Cross Country, the Italian leg of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold series, in San Giorgio su Legnano on Saturday (6).

Ebenyo secured sixth place at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst last February and went on to win silver medals in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Budapest and in the half marathon at the World Road Running Championships in Riga.

The 28-year-old last raced on 17 December in Kolkata where he won the 25km event in a world best of 1:11:13 and he will be looking to carry that form through to 2024.

Among those wanting to challenge him will be Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo, who will make his third appearance at the Campaccio after finishing third in 2021 and fourth in 2022. Chelimo, the younger brother of Jacob Kiplimo, won world 5000m bronze in Oregon in 2022 and finished third in the Cross Internacional de San Sebastian, a World Cross Country Tour Silver event, in November. 

Celestin Ndikumana and Egide Ntakarutimana from Burundi will be looking to follow in the footsteps of their compatriot Rodrigue Kwizera, who won last year’s race in San Giorgio su Legnano. Ndikumana claimed victory in the World Cross Country Tour Gold race in Amorebieta, while Ntakarutimana finished fifth in last year’s edition of the Campaccio.

The Italian challenge is led by marathon runners Nekagenet Crippa, Iliass Aouani and Yohanes Chiappinelli. Crippa, who is the elder brother of Yeman Crippa, finished sixth in the Rome Marathon with 2:12:11 on his debut over this distance and improved his PB to 2:07:35 in Valencia in December, achieving a qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in Paris.

Aouani ran 2:08:34 on his marathon debut in Milan in 2022 and improved Eyob Faniel’s Italian record to 2:07:16 in Barcelona in 2023 before finishing seventh at the New York Marathon in 2:10:54. He finished sixth in 2021 and eighth in 2022 in his previous two appearances at the Campaccio.

Chiappinelli, the 2018 European 3000m steeplechase bronze medallist, ran 2:09:46 on his marathon debut in Seville and finished 11th at the World Championships in Budapest in August.

The line-up of Italian runners is completed by Ala Zoghlami, a four-time Italian champion in the 3000m steeplechase.

The women’s race features Italian distance running star Nadia Battocletti, who won silver at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels in December on her debut in the senior category following her gold medals in the U20 category in 2018 and 2019 and in the U23 category in 2021 and 2022. Prior to that race in Brussels, she finished fifth in the 5km at the World Road Running Championships in Riga with a national record of 14:45. 

Last weekend Battocletti won the 5km Boclassic in Bolzano, beating Nelly Chepchirchir and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi to become the first Italian athlete to win the event since Maria Curatolo in 1988. 

Her challengers this time include Francine Niyomukunzi from Burundi, who finished ninth in the 5km at the World Road Running Championships and improved her PB to 8:44.18 in the 3000m in Xiamen last September. Niyomukunzi’s compatriot Micheline Niyomahoro will make her debut at Campaccio.

Other Italian contenders are Anna Arnaudo, the European U23 silver medallist in the 10,000m in 2021 and Italian half marathon champion in 2023; Federica Del Buono, European indoor bronze medallist in the 1500m in Prague in 2015; Valentina Gemetto, who finished third at the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold event in Soria; Giovanna Selva, European U23 team gold medallist in 2021 and fourth at the Boclassic; and Sara Nestola, European U23 silver medallist in the 10,000m.

Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics