Pre-race favourite Jimmy Gressier powered away from his rivals in the second half to win the individual title at the European 10,000m Cup in Pace, France on Saturday (28) evening in 27:24.51 and lead France to a successful defence of the team title.
Gressier still had Spain’s Carlos Mayo and Aras Kaya from Türkiye - the latter who finished ahead of Gressier at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships last December - in his slipstream at the halfway point in 13:42.56 but the charismatic and popular Frenchman put almost half-a-minute on his rivals in the last 5000 metres.
With only the lapped runners for company in the closing kilometres, Gressier ran hard in pursuit of the French record which stands at 27:17.29 and even though he fell narrowly short of this mark, the 25-year-old still made a richly successful return to this discipline.
In only his second track 10,000m some three years after winning the European U23 title in Gavle, Gressier slashed more than one minute off his lifetime best with 27:24.51 to ensure yet more continental honours. His time was also not only a qualifying time for the European Athletics Championships in Munich but also the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in mid-July.
Third last year, Mayo improved to second this year, finishing a distant second to Gressier in 27:53.12 with Kaya another five seconds back in third in 27:58.08.
With Yann Schrub the second counter for the home contingent in fourth in 27:59.32 and Emmanuel Roudolff clocking 28:06.28 in eleventh, France successfully defended their team title in Pacé despite the absence of last year’s individual winner Morhad Amdouni due to injury.
In the women’s race, Türkiye’s multiple European champion Yasemin Can looked back to her best form after an off-colour 2021 season, putting down the hammer with a sizzling fourth kilometre of 3:02.74 to cut loose from a tightly bunched field.
Can’s mid-race surge had the desired effect and the 25-year-old never looked in any danger of relinquishing her lead once she hit the front in earnest. She came home for victory on her European 10,000m Cup debut in a European leading time of 31:20.18 to also seal the qualifying times for both Munich and Eugene.
On the comeback trail from injury and illness, Alina Reh finished an isolated second in 31:39.86 with her teammate Katharina Steinruck third in a lifetime best of 32:03.88 to ensure Germany would win their first ever team title at the European 10,000m Cup in either competition.
There were some other notable lifetime bests for some of the athletes who just missed out on the individual medals.
Ukraine’s Valeriia Zinenko was an excellent fourth in 32:07.28, one place ahead of 39-year-old Maitane Melero from Spain who ran her fastest ever time of 32:08.57. In sixth, Moira Stewartova set a Czech record of 32:08.96 and Mekdes Woldu was eighth on home soil for France in 32:11.72.
Full results here.
Full race replay here.