Isaac Kimeli defeated a strong domestic field for the senior men’s 9.35km title at the Belgian Cross Country Championships in Hulshout on Sunday (19).
On the road to the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Brussels on 10 December, Kimeli recovered from a mid-race fall to win in 28:34 to defeat John Heymans (28:35) and Robin Hendrix (28:38) and win his fifth Belgian cross country title.
"Now I'm going to start a tough training block and then it will be a matter of good recovery towards the European Cross Country Championships.
"Last year the form was good, but now it is even better. I'm going to do my best and it would be fantastic if I get a medal. My knowledge of the course is certainly a great advantage," said Kimeli as quoted by Atletiek Nieuws.
Kimeli has won senior and bronze medals in the past at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships and he will also helm a Belgian team which will have a legitimate chance of winning a medal in the team race next month.
The Belgian team also looks set to feature former European U23 1500m champion Pieter-Jan Hannes. He finished sixth in 29:16 to secure the last place on the team for Brussels where he will bid farewell to international competition.
"I go to Brussels purely to enjoy myself. The team is so strong that I have to be honest and say that I probably won't be among the top three Belgians. I am going to thank my supporters, pour my soul out and take on the role of an experienced teammate. I challenge the boys to score a team medal for me!" said Hannes.
Fresh from her 2:27:54 debut for victory in the Eindhoven Marathon last month, Chloe Herbiet won the senior women’s title in 33:08 ahead of Juliette Thomas (33:18) and Lisa Rooms (33:22).
Ruben Verheyden and 2021 European indoor 1500m champion Elise Vanderelst won the 2.49km short course titles in 8:14 and 7:16 and will helm Belgium’s mixed relay team in Brussels next month, another event which could very possibly yield a medal for the hosts having won in 2021.
Elsewhere around Europe…
On the comeback trail, 2021 European U20 cross country champion Axel Vang Christensen - who is still eligible for the U20 race in Brussels - won the Danish 10km cross country title in Horhaven in 28:01 by 40 seconds from Mikkel Dahl-Jessen in 28:51.
Carolien Millenaar won the senior women’s 10km title in 33:46.
In tough, muddy conditions at the Irish Cross Country Championships in Gowran on Sunday, Cormac Dalton and Fiona Everard won the senior 9km titles in 31:08 and 36:32 respectively.
One of the casualties was 2021 European U20 3000m champion Nick Griggs who collapsed in the last 300 metres while leading the U20 race.
“When I went into the mud again, my legs just completely went, and I just collapsed,” said Griggs as reported by the Irish Times.
With Griggs unable to make it to the finish, Niall Murphy capitalised with victory in the U20 5km in 17:12.
At the Cross La Mandria International in Turin on Sunday (19), European 10,000m champion Yemaneberhan Crippa won the senior men's 9.8km at the same venue which staged the 2022 SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
Having just arrived home after a stint at altitude in Iten in Kenya, Crippa won in a sprint finish from the fast improving Pasquale Selvarolo by one second, 28:13 to 28:14.
After the race, Crippa confirmed he is targeting this year's European Cross Country Championships in Brussels ahead of the Seville Marathon on 18 February.
In a domestic edition of the Cross Country Bydgoszcz na Start, a World Athletics Cross Country Tour Bronze event, on Sunday, Poles Olimpia Breza and Mateusz Gos won the 6km and 8km races in 18:58 and 22:01 respectively.