Previews19 Jan 2024

Jebitok and Kimeli eye CrossCup crowns in Hannut


Isaac Kimeli in CrossCup action (© AFP / Getty Images)

Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli will look to go one better than his runner-up finish last year while Kenya’s Edinah Jebitok will target another World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold meeting triumph at the CrossCup in Hannut on Sunday (21).

Kimeli finished second behind Yann Schrub of France when they raced in the snow-covered Belgian city in 2023. Kimeli’s compatriot Guillaume Grimard was third on that occasion and the pair clash again over 9km in Hannut, but this time they will go up against a field including Uganda’s Rogers Kibet, Rwanda’s Yves Nimubona and Burundi’s Egide Ntakarutimana.

Nimubona and Ntakarutimana opened their 2024 cross country campaigns at the Campaccio in San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy, on 6 January, respectively finishing third and fourth. Nimubona then raced over 10km on the roads in Valencia a week later, clocking a PB of 27:49.

Kibet was also in PB form in Valencia, finishing six spots ahead of Nimubona in eighth place, clocking 27:07. The 20-year-old finished 15th at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst last February.

Grimard is back in action after finishing sixth in San Giorgio su Legnano behind Nimubona and Ntakarutimana, while Kimeli will also be seeking a strong performance on home soil when he makes his season debut. After finishing second in Hannut last year, he went on to finish 13th in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Budapest and then 11th at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels towards the end of the year.

In the women’s 9km race, Jebitok has the chance to add another Cross Country Tour Gold meeting win to her CV this season, after her victories in Seville in November and Venta de Banos in December.

The 22-year-old, who placed eighth in Bathurst last year, then raced at the Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza in Elgoibar on 7 January and finished second there, just two seconds behind her Kenyan compatriot Beatrice Chebet, the world cross country champion.

Pamela Kosgei was also a medallist in Bathurst, having claimed bronze in the U20 women’s race, and the 19-year-old is entered alongside her compatriot Jebitok for the race in Hannut.

They will be joined on the start line by Britain’s Megan Keith, who finished third in Hannut last year and went on to win European U23 titles in the 5000m in July and cross country in December.

Like Kibet and Nimubona, 21-year-old Keith raced on the roads in Valencia and ran a PB of 31:22.

The field in Hannut also features Italy’s Giovanna Selva and Hungary’s Lili Anna Vindics-Toth, who placed third and fourth respectively at the Campaccio, plus Kenya’s Faith Chepkoech and Belgium’s Jana Van Lent.

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