Yann Schrub competes at the Cross Cup in Hannut (© Tomas Sisk for organisers)
Likina Amebaw regained her Cross das Amendoeiras em Flor title from two years ago while Yann Schrub became the first French winner of the competition in Albufeira on Sunday (26) in what was the final fixture in the 2022-2023 World Athletics Cross Country Tour series.
A relatively small pack of five principle contenders emerged quickly on the first lap of the women’s 6.37km race. Amebaw, winner here in 2021, was joined by Ukraine’s Nataliya Strebkova, Germany’s Elena Burkard, Sweden’s Sarah Lahti and Silke Jonkman of the Netherlands, with the quintet covering the opening 2km circuit in 7:33.
Amebaw increased the pace slightly on the second lap and it was enough to create some distance between her and her opponents. As the Spain-based Ethiopian embarked on the final lap, she had a three-second margin over Burkard and Strebkova, the Ukrainian steeplechase record-holder.
Burkard’s challenge faded on the last lap, while Strebkova remained a few strides behind Amebaw but was unable to make a dent on the leader. Amebaw maintained her lead to the finish, crossing the line in 21:35 with Strebkova taking second place in 21:38. Burkard held on for third place in 21:44.
The men’s 8.45km race started with a larger lead pack of contenders, but Shrub managed to lead throughout.
Eight men ran together through the first 2km lap, which they completed with 6:39 on the clock. Schrub then increased the pace, which helped to whittle down the pack. By the time he reached the half-way mark, Shrub had just three others for company: compatriot Valentin Gondouin and Portuguese duo Samuel Barata and Rui Pinto.
The damage was done on the penultimate lap, which Schrub covered in 6:12. It was enough to create a six-second gap on what had now become a three-man chase pack. They tried to work together to reel in the long-time leader on the final lap, but Schrub could not be caught and he crossed the finish line in 25:17.
Gondouin, who took team gold alongside Schrub at the European Cross Country Championships in December, finished second in 25:21, just a fraction ahead of third-placed Barata who was given the same time. Pinto crossed the line two seconds later.
It was Schrub’s third consecutive win on the Cross Country Tour, following victories in Hannut and Calzadilla. Earlier this month he set a 3000m PB of 7:40.54 when winning in Metz.
1 Likina Amebaw (ETH) 21:35
2 Nataliya Strebkova (UKR) 21:38
3 Elena Burkard (GER) 21:44
4 Sarah Lahti (SWE) 21:59
5 Silke Jonkman (NED) 21:59
1 Yann Schrub (FRA) 25:17
2 Valentin Gondouin (FRA) 25:21
3 Samuel Barata (POR) 25:21
4 Rui Pinto (POR) 25:23
5 Younes Kniya (MAR) 25:37