TWO-time IAAF world Cross Country Championships medallist Teklemariam Medhin, from Eritrea, handed Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich a rare defeat this winter at the 60th edition of the Cross Internacional de San Sebastian at the Lasarte racecourse on Sunday (11).
In his last cross country race six weeks ago in Soria, Medhin finished a close second to Toroitich but the former turned the tables on his in-form rival, who has won four races on Spanish soil this winter.
In muddy underfoot conditions, the two protagonists pulled away from Kenya’s Elvis Cheboi and local hope Javier Guerra at the 7km mark and based on recent results, it certainly seemed as though Toroitich was on course for his straight fifth cross country win.
But in a twist to the plot, Medhin, who has raced much more sparingly this winter, broke away from the Ugandan in the final kilometer and went on to take a noteworthy win.
He became the first runner to score three wins in San Sebastian since Ethiopia’s 1968 Olympic marathon champion Mamo Wolde won this long-running fixture three times between 1963 and 1966.
Medhin crossed the finish line in 30:45 to defeat Toroitich by a substantial 11 seconds while 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships 10,000m silver medallist Cheboi – in his first race as a senior – got the better of Guerra for the third podium spot.
Guerra, who is aiming for a sub-2:10 finishing time in the London Marathon on 26 April, was the first Spaniard home in fourth in 31:45 with early-leader Ivan Fernandez fifth in 32:13.
Kenya’s Betsy Saina finished third in the Campaccio IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in Italy on Tuesday but the 26-year-old, who set personal bests at all distances from 3000m up to the half marathon last year, will have enjoyed her Spanish outing more as she scored her first win of the season in the Basque city.
The former NCAA cross country champion won the 6.5km race in 23:19 to defeat her compatriot Magdalene Masai, who won her third title in Amorebieta last weekend, by three seconds.
A largely domestic women’s field couldn’t keep pace with the invited Kenyan runners on this occasion.
Lidia Rodriguez was a distant third in 23:55 with 2014 European Championships 3000m steeplechase bronze medallist Diana Martin fourth in 23:58.
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Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin wins International Cross Country Race in Spain
ERITREA‘s Teklemariam Medhin won the Cross Internacional de San Sebastián men’s competition ahead of Uganda’s Thimothy Toroitich and Kenya’s Elvis Cheboi in the coastal city of San Sebastian in northern Spain.
It was a rainy Sunday morning when Teklemariam Medhin let Uganda’s Thimothy Toroitich set the pace for a long time before surging ahead in a final sprint to cross the finish line first.
The race was the 60th edition of the International Cross Country race in San Sebastian and the second win by Teklemariam Medhin after 2013.
Teklemariam Medhin is a two-time world cross medalist who won bronze in the men’s senior ract at the 2013 World Crosss-Country Chmpionships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
He also won the IAAF Cross-Country Permit in Burgos, Spain in 2010 after placing fourth in 2012 and third in 2013.
The 25-year old is based in Madrid where he trains under the guidance of Jeronimo Bravo and represented Eritrea at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Teklemariam was part of the Eritrean team around Zersenay Tadese during the “epic race” at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin in 2009.
The women’s race in San Sebastian was won by Kenya’s Betsy Saina won ahead of Kenyan Magdalyne Masai and Spain’s Lidia Rodriguez.