Euro Cross 2021 Preview – The Seniors

The 27th edition of the European Cross Country Champs takes place in Fingal, Dublin this Sunday 12th December. It’s the competition’s second trip to Ireland and first since 2009.

Here’s our Euro Cross 2021 preview.

The Women’s Race

Yasemin Can heads to Fingal hoping to make it an unprecedented five individual titles in a row. Can was eighth in the Olympic 5,000m final in July.

There are some suggestions this may be her biggest challenge yet. The former Kenyan finished in 11th, almost 90 seconds down from race winner Norah Jeruto in November’s Cross of Italica, though she will take some solace that she was the first European.

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Only one other woman in history has won two in a row and she will be on the startline on Sunday. Fionnuala McCormack won in 2011 and 2012 and is racing just seven days after running 2.23.57 in the Valencia Marathon.

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A more likely Irish assault looks likely to come from Michelle Finn, who led from gun to tape in November’s Irish Cross Country Champs and told Cathal Dennehy she believes she’s getting faster at 32. For that article click here.

Meraf Bahta (Sweden) comes in strong cross form, having won in Tilburg ahead of Jip Vasterburg (Netherlands) and was second in the Great Manchester Run over 10k.

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Final worthy mentions go to Selamawit Teferi (Israel) who was tenth in the Olympic 5000m and Jess Judd who dominated the Great Britain trials race. Judd herself has won individual medals in both the U20 (2014 Silver) and U23 races (2017 bronze). She could be in contention for a first senior medal.

The former junior champions

Konstanze Klosterhalfen leads a strong German team. Her last appearance was a silver in the U23 race in 2017 (she was just 20 at the time) and she is a previous U20 winner (2015 & 2016). The German was eighth in the Olympic 10,000m final and for my money is one of the favourites.

Anna Emilie Moller won the U23 title in Lisbon in 2019, the same year she was 15th in the senior race at the World Cross. The Dane also won in 2018 and is a class act on her day. That said, she’s rarely competed this year and failed to progress past the heats of the Steeplechase in Tokyo.

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The men’s race

Now to our men’s 2021 Euro Cross preview.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen forgoes his eligibility for the U23 race to test himself in the Seniors. The Olympic 1500m champ and four time Euro U20 XC winner will start a huge favourite in Ireland.

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His brother Filip is one of two former winners in the race, having won in Tilburg in 2018. The siblings may hope to sweep the front two.

Aras Kaya (Turkey) is the other former champ, having won in 2016 but there are little suggestions he is in anything approaching that form.

A stacked Spanish squad

A better challenge looks likely to come from Spain with Abdessamad Oukhelfen appearing the best of the bunch. Oukhelfen was third in San Sebastian and 5th at the Cross de Atapuerca. On both occasions he was the first European beating Adel Mechaal and Carlos Mayo respectively. Another Spaniard to watch is Nassim Hassaous, who was 4th in the Cross International de Soria. Spain look strong for the team title.

The dark horses?

Jimmy Gressier has fond memories of these champs, winning the U23 race three times in a row between 2017 and 2019. He was fourth to Ingebrigtsen in the 2016 U20 race. The Frenchman won his national champs easily in November.

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Jonas Raess (Switzerland) was an impressive winner in Tilburg in November, where he edged out Mike Foppen (Netherlands only Euro Senior men’s entry).

Others to watch include Hiko Tonosa of Ireland and Jack Rowe of Great Britain. Both won their trials races impressively. Andrew Butchart (5th in 2019) may also be running himself into some decent form, having finished second in Liverpool behind Rowe.

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