One month today (3), some of Europe’s best distance runners will converge on Pacé in north-west France for the 26th European 10,000m Cup. But what’s the history of this competition, which has seen the likes of world and Olympic champions Mo Farah, Fernanda Ribeiro and Paula Radcliffe take victories in the past?
It dates back to 1997, when the competition was first held under its initial title of the European 10,000m Challenge. For the first five years, it took place on the Iberian Peninsula as its forerunner was the Iberian 10,000m Championships – an annual Spain versus Portugal competition that took place between 1991 and 1996.
The European 10,000m Cup was first held under its current title in 2005 and since then has been held in 10 different countries. This year, it heads to Pacé for the second year running, and where the 2024 edition will also be held.
Famous past champions include multiple winners Fernanda Ribeiro from Portugal (1998 and 2003), fellow Portuguese runner Sara Moreira (2011, 2012 and 2017) and Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe (1999 and 2001) among the women, along with Germany's Dieter Baumann (1997), Spain's Jose Manuel Martinez (2004 and 2009), Great Britain's Mo Farah (2010) and Italy's Daniele Meucci (2016) on the men’s side.
(Portugal's Sara Moreira on her way to her third European 10,000m Cup victory at Minsk 2017)
But the European 10,000m Cup is a team event too, and in the last 10 years Great Britain has won six women’s team races while Portugal has the most women's team titles with 10 dating back to 1997. France has won the last two men’s team titles and Italy four of the seven prior to that, but Spain has the most men’s team titles with 10.
In terms of cumulative individual honours, Spain also sits on top of the medal table with 69 medals, including 24 gold, 26 silver and 19 bronze, ahead of Portugal, France and Great Britain.
A look back at Pacé 2022
Last year’s event in Pacé was the 25th anniversary of the European 10,000m Cup and it didn’t disappoint. Jimmy Gressier won the men's race in 27:24.51, leading France to a successful defence of its team title.
In only his second track 10,000m, three years after winning the European U23 title in Gavle, Gressier smashed his lifetime best with 27:24.51. He would go on to finish fourth in the 10,000m at last year’s European Athletics Championships in Munich before setting a European 5km record of 13:12 in Monaco earlier this year.
In the women’s race, Türkiye’s multiple European champion Yasemin Can delivered a blistering fourth kilometre of 3:02.74 to break up the field. She held on to win on her European 10,000m Cup debut in a time of 31:20.18. A few months later, Can went on to win her third European senior title, taking 10,000m gold in Munich.
Full results from last year’s European 10,000m Cup can be found here and the latest European 10,000m Cup news can be found here.
Last five winners
2017 - Antonio Abadia (ESP) 28:31.16
2018 - Richard Ringer (GER) 27:36.52
2019 - Yemaneberhan Crippa (ITA) 27:49.79
2021 - Morhad Amdouni (FRA) 27:23.39
2022 - Jimmy Gressier (FRA) 27:24.51
2017 - Sara Moreira (POR) 32:03.57
2018 - Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (ISR) 31:33.03
2019 - Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (ISR) 31:15.78
2021 - Eilish McColgan (GBR) 31:19.35
2022 - Yasemin Can (TUR) 31:20.18
2017 - Spain
2018 - Spain
2019 - Italy
2021 - France
2022 - France
2017 - Belarus
2018 - Great Britain
2019 - Great Britain
2021 - Great Britain
2022 - Germany
Looking ahead to Pacé 2023
The French team for the 2023 European 10,000m Cup will be without reigning individual champion Jimmy Gressier but the hosts have still named a team full of depth and experience which includes Felix Bour and Fabien Palcau who have lifetime bests of 27:51.22 and 28:07.01 respectively.
And there will be optimism of a rare individual French medal in the women's race with Mekdes Woldu named in the quartet. Woldu made an auspicious marathon debut in the Hamburg Marathon at the end of April, clocking 2:26:34 to achieve the qualifying time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Her 10,000m lifetime best stands at 32:11.73.
The biggest threat to the hosts in the men's team race will come from the Spaniards who will be seeking their eleventh title as a collective. Their team includes Carlos Mayo, who has finished third and second individually at the last two editions of the European 10,000m Cup and has the fastest lifetime best of the quintet with 27:25.00.
(Carlos Mayo leads Jimmy Gressier in the early stages of the men's race in 2022)
But the athlete to beat for the individual men's title could be Italy's reigning European 10,000m champion Yemaneberhan Crippa. Crippa is planning to refocus on the track this summer after making his marathon debut this spring, clocking 2:08:57 in the Milan Marathon.
Final entries for the European 10,000m Cup will be published on the week starting 22 May and the European 10,000m Cup will be streamed live with expert English-language commentary through the European Athletics YouTube channel.
Nick Howard for European Athletics