Jacob Kiplimo victorious in Burgos (© Fundación ANOC)
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo and Eritrea’s Aron Kifle will be the star names at the 37th Cross Internacional de la Constitución, the third leg of the 2018/19 IAAF Cross Country Permit series, to be held in Alcobendas on the outskirts of Madrid on Sunday (25).
Their encounter will provide an interesting rematch of the permit meeting in Atapuerca two weeks ago where Kiplimo, the world U20 cross-country champion, prevailed over the world half marathon bronze medallist.
Kiplimo targets Spanish hat-trick
Over a tough 10km circuit with ups and downs throughout, Kiplimo will be aiming for a third consecutive success on his Spanish tour following his recent victories in Atapuerca and Soria. However, he will be challenged by last year’s winner Kifle, who will be performing close to his usual training venues as he is based in Madrid for much of the year.
The 20-year-old is reportedly in good form at this early stage of the season but his main target is the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Aarhus 2019 on 30 March.
Kenya’s Edward Zakayo will be hoping to finish closer to Kiplimo than he did in Atapuerca and Soria. The world U20 5000m champion, who will be racing on the day he turns 17, will be running for the third Sunday in a row after his third-place finish in Atapuerca and his runner-up place in Soria where he finished 22 seconds behind Kiplimo.
Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich will be making his sixth consecutive appearance in Alcobendas having managed a podium finish every single year, topped by wins in 2014 and 2016.
The African contingent also includes Kenya’s Vincent Rono, fresh from a 10th place in Atapuerca and a seventh spot in Leffrinckoucke, plus steeplechase specialist Yemane Hailesilassie, another 20-year-old Eritrean who trains in Madrid alongside former world half marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese under the guidance of Jerónimo Bravo. Hailesilassie, who holds the Eritrean steeplechase record of 8:11:22, placed 11th at the 2016 Olympic Games.
European cross-country silver medallist Adel Mechaal will likely be the leading Spanish challenger. The 27-year-old will line up alongside European steeplechase silver medallist Fernando Carro and Daniel Mateo as they all try to secure a spot on the national team for next month’s European Cross Country Championships.
Kite flying high
Following her fourth place against a world-class field in Atapuerca and her convincing victory last Sunday in Soria, few would bet against Kenya’s Gloria Kite in the women’s 5.9km event.
The 19-year-old’s closest rival should be Spain’s Trihas Gebre, who finished 37 seconds behind Kite in Atapuerca.
Kite aside, the only other non-Spanish athletes will be Portugal’s Carla Salomé Rocha and Sara Catarina Ribeiro who finished 10th and 1th respectively in Atapuerca.
In addition to Gebre, the Spanish contingent includes 2015 European U20 3000m silver medallist Celia Antón, Elena Loyo, the surprise third-place finisher in Soria, steeplechaser María José Pérez and Nuria Lugueros.
Weather forecasters predict a cloudy day on Sunday with 50% likelihood of rain and temperatures ranging between 9-11C at race time.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF