Alina Reh sealed her place on the German team for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Piemonte-La Mandria Park on 11 December with a decisive victory at the German Cross Country Championships in Löningen on Saturday (27).
Reh defeated a strong domestic field in the senior women’s 6.35km by 10 seconds and that was even with a fall on one of the uphill sections on the last lap.
"I can't believe it. Two days ago I didn't want to start at all and I thought I'd be good if I could finish in the top-10. And now I've won here. Nothing has worked for me since the European Championships. I felt so empty. I even fell on the last hill,” said Reh.
A victory at the German Championships should embolden Reh’s spirits ahead of the European Cross Country Championships where she will be in contention to win her second successive individual medal after running a patient race to win bronze in Fingal-Dublin last December.
And Reh will also be part of a German team with aspirations of challenging for the title in the team race. European 1500m finalist Hanna Klein was second in 22:09 with Miriam Dattke, who finished fourth in the marathon at the European Athletics Championships but led Germany to the team title, third in 22:19.
Former European U23 cross country silver medallist Samuel Fitwi defended his title in the senior men’s 9.8km in a sprint finish against Filimon Abraham, 29:28 to 29:29.
"I've just come down from 2000 meters in altitude. Actually, I'm in marathon preparation. I wanted to qualify for the European Championships today. The race was tough, but it was a great pleasure to be part of it," said Fitwi.
Full results here.
Warner-Judd and Cairess power through the mud for victory in Liverpool
Jessica Warner-Judd, who finished one place behind Reh at the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin last December, sealed her place on yet another British team at the traditional trial race in Liverpool in Sefton Park on Saturday (27).
In archetypal cross country conditions, Judd outpaced last year’s European U20 champion Megan Keith in the last kilometre for victory over a muddy 8km course in 27:17 ahead of Keith in 27:22.
Judd will spearhead a British team that will be looking to defend their team title in Turin next month but 19-year-old Keith is likely to opt for the U23 6km where she could pose one of the main dangers to Italy’s Nadia Battocletti, the winner of three individual titles already at the European Cross Country Championships.
Behind Keith, Abbie Donnelly also sealed her place on the British team in third (27:24) along with European indoor 3000m champion Amy-Eloise Markovc (27:26) in fourth.
Despite expressing his distaste for the underfoot conditions on offer in Liverpool, Emile Cairess glided away from a strong field in the senior men’s race, winning in 29:19 ahead of Hugo Milner (29:29) and world indoor 3000m bronze medallist Marc Scott (29:33).
"It was pretty muddy in the end and I don’t like the mud at all. But I’m happy I’ve qualified for the Europeans. It should be a better course for me. We’ve got a good team so hopefully we can do well for Britain," said Cairess.
Reigning European U20 cross country champion Axel Vang Christensen from Denmark, who lives, trains and studies in Birmingham, acquitted himself well ahead of his title defence in La Mandria Park.
Running almost twice the distance that will await him next month, the 18-year-old finished seventh in 29:58 and could have possibly finished higher had it not been for a mid-race fall on an especially muddy section of the course.
Tokyo Olympian Revee Walcott-Nolan and James Heneghan won the 1.5km races in 5:12 and 4:31 respectively and will be part of the British team for the mixed relay at the European Cross Country Championships next month.
Full results here.
Elsewhere around Europe…
Isaac Kimeli defeated a strong field at the Belgian selection race for La Mandria Park with victory at the Roeselare CrossCup on Sunday (27) afternoon.
In fact, Kimeli’s most determined rival was the 20-year-old Ruben Querinjean, who will be representing Luxembourg in the U23 race next month. Querinjean famously won Luxembourg’s first ever medal at the European Cross Country Championships last year with individual bronze in the U23 race.
But Kimeli kept something in reserve on the last lap and eked out a narrow victory against his younger rival in the 10km by one second, 30:12 to 30:13.
"In Turin the course will be a bit faster than last year in Dublin, with fewer uphill sections as well. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I still have two weeks to get stronger so it will be all right because my shape is clearly already very good," said Kimeli, who won individual silver behind Filip Ingebrigtsen in 2018.
Lisa Rooms won the senior women’s 8km by three seconds in 24:02 ahead of Mieke Gorissen who looks set to make her debut at the European Cross Country Championships at the age of 39.
Already a winner of two individual medals at the European Cross Country Championships, Mariana Machado won the senior women’s race at the Portuguese Cross Country Championships in Seixal on Sunday (27).
Machado, who is still eligible for the U23 race at the European Cross Country Championships, won the senior women’s 8km in 26:27 by 27 seconds. Former European cross country champion Jessica Augusto was 12th in 28:03.
Behind the Kenyan duo of Reuben Longosiwa (28:38) and Edward Zakayo (28:39), Samuel Barata won the senior men’s 10km courtesy of a lunge to the finish-line against Etson Barros, 29:11 to 29:12.
Tokyo Olympian Tereza Hrochova won the 8km at the Czech Cross Country Championships in Rumburk in 29:05. Jachym Kovar won the men’s 10km in 32:09.