Italy’s leading distance runners will be looking to impress the team selectors on Sunday (20) at the ‘J Medical International Cross La Mandria’, the test event for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Piemonte-La Mandria Park near Turin on 11 December.
The test event takes place at the same venue and on a near-identical course in La Mandria Park to the one which will be used next month and looks set to act as the de facto domestic trial race for the championships.
Reigning European 10,000m champion Yemaneberhan Crippa has been pre-selected for the championships and will not be competing in the senior men’s 10km on Sunday but he looks set to be part of a strong Italian team who could potentially challenge for a team medal - and maybe even the title - next month.
Among those looking to join Crippa on the team for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships include Italian marathon record-holder Eyob Faniel (2:07:19) who is due to return to competition after missing the European Athletics Championships due to injury. This will be his first race in more than five months.
By contrast, fellow aspirants Yohanes Chiappinelli and Pietro Riva have both demonstrated excellent recent form albeit on the roads. Chiappinelli recently clocked a 60:45 half marathon lifetime best in Pisa although Riva eclipsed that time by clocking 60:30 in Valencia.
Out of this triumvirate, Chiappinelli has the best cross country credentials. He has an individual silver medal to his name, following home a then 16-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the U20 race at the 2016 SPAR European Cross Country Championships which also took place on Italian soil in Chia.
The line-up also includes Italian cross country champion Iliass Aouani who recently finished fourth against a strong field in Soria and European 3000m bronze medallist Osama Zoghlami.
As well as the senior, U23 and U20 races, a 2km race is also on schedule and will feature many of Italy’s leading middle distance prospects in the context of securing their place on the mixed relay team for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. The standout names on the entry-lists include European 1500m fourth-placer Pietro Arese and former European indoor 1500m bronze medallist Federica Del Bueno.
A monument to remember the late Italian distance runner Maura Viceconte, who won a bronze medal in the marathon at the 1998 European Athletics Championships and still holds the Italian 10,000m record with 31:05.57, has also been commissioned. The monument will be positioned on the highest point of the course in front of La Mandria Castle.