Report14 Dec 2015

Heath and Van Alstine prevail in San Francisco – cross-country round-up


Garrett Heath wins the senior men's race at the USATF Club Cross Country National Championships (© USATF / Michael Scott Photography)

Garrett Heath claimed victory at the USATF Club Cross Country National Championships staged in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Saturday (12).

Heath has beaten some of the world’s best middle-distance runners at the past two editions of the 4km invitational at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country, but the 30-year-old prevailed over the more traditional cross-country distance of 10km on Saturday.

Heath, who lowered his 5000m PB to 13:16.31 this summer, broke the tape in the senior men’s race in 29:06 with Jonathan Grey finishing four seconds adrift. Scot Fauble finished third in 29:26 but led Hoka One One to the team title.

Further back, US mile record-holder Alan Webb – who is better known as a triathlete these days – finished 182nd while Olympic 800m finalist Nick Symmonds finished 219th.

In the women’s senior 6km, Amy Van Alstine produced a small upset as she edged out Laura Thweatt for individual honours. In a tight finish, Van Alstine outpaced Thweatt for the win by one second in 19:51.

Thweatt, who won the US cross-country title this year, made a promising 2:28:23 debut at the New York Marathon last month but was understandably lacking in pace in the closing stages.

Boston Athletic Association packed well with three finishers inside the top-10 – including veteran Jen Rhines – and comfortably won the women’s team title.

Ayalew among the winners in Spain

World cross country 10th-place finisher Aweke Ayalew from Bahrain claimed top honours at the 33rd edition of the Cross Nacional Fiestas de la Virgen in Yecla on Sunday (13).

Ayalew and Moses Kibet from Uganda cut loose from a predominantly domestic field in the early stages of the senior men’s 10km but Ayalew, who boasts a 13:05.00 PB for 5000m, moved away from Kibet at a relatively early point in the race to win by seven seconds in 29:52.

With the leading Spaniards on recent form competing at the European Cross Country Championships, Jose Espana comprised the podium in 30:19 ahead of renowned internationals Abdelaziz Merzougui (30:33) and Daniel Mateo (30:44).

The order from last week’s senior women’s race in Aranda de Duero was repeated over 8km with Zimbabwe’s Olivia Chitate defeating the experienced Nuria Fernandez from Spain by six seconds in 27:59.

The 1500m specialist gave birth to her third child this summer but the 39-year-old is aiming to qualify for her fourth Olympic team in 2016.

At the 34th edition of the Cross Nacional Castellano-Manchego in Quintanar, Berhane Amanuel claimed victory after his 17-year-old compatriot Aron Kifle – who won in Aranda de Duero last weekend – was disqualified for obstruction in the sprint to the finish.

Amanuel became the fifth Eritrean winner of the senior men’s race after Yonas Kifle (2004), Zersenay Tadese (2005), Ali Abdallah (2007) and Samuel Tsegay (2014).

Ukraine’s Viktoriya Pohoryelska won the women’s senior race ahead of Spaniards Sonia Bejarano and Irene Sanchez-Escribano.

Two prospective members of the British team for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro tested their shape in cold and snowy conditions at the North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships in Durham on Saturday.

Olympic 1500m finalist Laura Weightman stepped up in distance to claim the runner-up spot in the senior race ahead of sub-2:30 marathon-runner Alyson Dixon but they were both beaten by Rosie Smith, who finished 40 seconds ahead of Weightman in 31:55.

Steven Mills for the IAAF