Robel Fsiha wins the senior men's race at the European Cross Country Championships (© Getty Images)
Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma and the three medallists from the European Cross Country Championships head the men’s field at the 63rd edition of the Campaccio in San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy, a World Athletics Cross Country Permit meeting, on 6 January. Kenya’s Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi leads the field in the women’s race.
The men’s line-up will live up to the tradition of the northern Italian event. Girma, who was born in 2000, clocked an Ethiopian record 8:01.36 in the 3000m steeplechase at the World Championships last year, finishing just 0.01 behind winner Conseslus Kipruto.
Another Ethiopian teenager in the field is 17-year-old Tadese Worku, who took silver in the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships last year and won the Giro di Castelbuono road race in July.
The top Kenyan runner in the field is Robert Keter, who set the 5km world record in Lille in November clocking 13:22.
The race will also reunite the podium finishers from December’s European Cross Country Championships with champion Robel Fsiha from Sweden taking on Turkey’s Aras Kaya and Italy’s Yeman Crippa.
Fsiha, who fled Eritrea in 2013 and gained Swedish citizenship in December 2018, finished 17th at last year’s World Cross Country Championships.
Kaya won European cross country silver to complete the full set of medals at the continental level following gold in Chia in 2016 and bronze in Tilburg two years later. Kaya also won European silver in the 3000m steeplechase in 2016.
Crippa will lead the home course challenge. Crippa finished eighth in the 10,000m at the World Championships last year, breaking the national record with 27:10.76. The 23-year-old star capped the year with his first individual senior bronze medal at the European cross. Crippa finished fifth at the Boclassic in Bolzano on New Year’s Eve.
Crippa will face his close friend Yohannes Chiappinelli, who won the European 3000m steeplechase bronze in 2018 and finished fifth in the U23 race at December’s European Cross Country Championships contributing to Italy’s team silver.
Other Italian runners in the field include Cesare Maestri, the 2019 world mountain running silver medallist, 2017 world mountain running champion Francesco Puppi and Xavier Chevrier, the European mountain running champion in 2017.
Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi leads the women’s field. Kipkemboi won world silver medal in the 5000m in October, clocking a 14:27.49 personal best. The Kenyan will take on compatriot Eva Cherono, who finished eighth at the World Cross Country Championships. She clocked a 14:40.25 5000m lifetime best in London last July.
The line-up also features Kenya’s Gloria Kite, who finished third at the Boclassic in Bolzano and clocked 8:29.91 for 3000m last year, and Ethiopians Alemitu Tariku, the World cross country U20 silver medallist and Foyten Hailu Tesfay, who finished 11th at World Cross Country Championships.
Nadia Battocletti will be the Italian standout. Battocletti won her second consecutive European U20 cross country gold last month and earlier in the year took 5000m silver at the European U20 championships. More recently, Battocletti, the daughter of former Italian cross country star Giuliano Battocletti, finished sixth at the Boclassic 5km on 31 December. In last year’s edition of the Campaccio, Battocletti finished sixth in her first appearance in the senior race.
Also returning is Sara Dossena, who was fifth last year. The 34-year-old, who was sixth at the 2017 New York Marathon and at the 2018 European Championships, improved her marathon PB to 2:24:00 in Nagoya last March.
Valeria Roffino, who finished 11th at the European Cross Country Championships and reigning world U20 mountain running champion Angela Mattevi are other Italian hopefuls in the race.
Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics