Merga wins Cross Atapuerca, Alayew beats Masai, after Masai fell, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Imane Merga, photo by (Campaccio 2012)

Imane Merga is one of the toughest distance runners in global athletics. Possessing a wicked kick and very good left upper hook, perhaps Mr. Merga should have considered American ice hockey or Australian rules football. 

Mr. Merga clearly won the first IAAF Cross Country event of the 2012-2013 year, in Burgos, Spain, at the ninth Attapuerca Cross on November 11. Several keen observers have told this writer, that distance running is not ballet, and that there are no points great form. Running against Mr. Merga means that one will be challenged throughout the course: he does not give up. 

Merga again, Ayalew beats Masai after she fell
BURGOS (ESP, Nov 11): IAAF Cross Country circuit started on Sunday in windy conditions in Spain. At 9th Cross Atapuerca (Burgos region) in the Parque Arquelogico first dramatic finish in women 7.839 km race as titled defender and former track world champion Linet Masai fell at one of the last obstacles and finished second in 25:19. Until then she was running shoulder by shoulder with later winner Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia (25:01) who is olympic steeple fifth placer. Briton Jessica Coulson was very solid 3rd in 25:42 ahead of European CC champion Fionnuala Britton of Ireland 25:48 and Portugal´s Sara Moreira 25:51. Well in the race also other European runners as Italian Nadia Ejaffini as 6th (25:57) and another Briton Hannah Walker (26:03). Only 8th place for another Kenyan world medalist Priscah Jepleting 26:23. Home star Marta Dominguez was 11th (26:37) but she was not the best Spanish runner, Diana Martin was 10th (26:31).  In finish of group of four runners title defender and reigning World CC Champion Imane Merga of Ethiopia had the most power in 28:07. In the men 9.807 km second Vincent Chepkok of Kenya who improved from his fourth place last year here (also 28:07). Third 10 000 m track world leader 2012 Emmanuel Bett 28:09 and fourth World CC medalist Teklemariam Medhin of Eritrea 28:10. Best European Spanish Ayad Lamdassem finished 8th in 28:35. More than 4000 entries was new participation record. 

Bett event best
ATHENS (GRE, Nov 11): Kenyan Raymond Bett won the 30th edition of the Athens Classic Marathon in a race record of 2:11:35. On the original marathon course, created for the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896, Bett loped along behind a handful of colleagues until he took the initiative on the steady decline in the final 10k to the finish in the splendid marble Panethenaiko Stadium, venue for the first modern Olympics. Bett finally despatched his last rival with about four kilometres to run, and was a comfortable winner, almost a minute ahead of colleagues, Paul Kosgei, who passed Alex Kirui inside the stadium, finishing second in 2:12:20, to Kirui's third in 2:12:26. As opposed to the race record, which Bett broke by five seconds, the course record belongs to 2004 Olympic winner, Stefano Baldini of Italy, with 2:10:55. Best non-Kenyan was Ukrainian Andriy Naumov as 7th in 2:17:59. Kenyan debutante, Consolater Chemtai won the women's race in exactly 2:40:00, Svitlana Stanko of Ukraine was second in 2:40:07, while another Kenyan, Viola Chelangat was third in 2:40:28. Belarus pre-race favorite Sviatlana Kougan was fourth in 2:42:30. Writes Pat Butcher. More at

Faster women times
ISTANBUL (TUR, Nov 11): Kenyan Stephen Chebogut won the 34th Vodafone Avrasya Istanbul Marathon in 2:11:05 clearly over other Kenyans Kiprotich Yegon 2:15:34 and Evans Kiplagat 2:16:43. Top non-African was Marious Ionescu of Romania as 7th in 2:23:55. Faster times in women category where Ethiopia achieved 1-2 with Koren Jelela 2:28:05 and Amane Gobena 2:28:38. Third Turkish record holder Sultan Haydar in 2:29:41. Fourth title defender Alemitu Abera 2:30:14. In accompanying 15 km races wins for Ethiopians, Biruk Deriye 43:56 (ahead of Birhan Tesfaye 43:58) and Seyfu Seboka 48:37 clearly over home star and double olympic medalist Elvan Abeylegesse 49:29. 

Spotakova rules
PRAHA (CZE): Double olympic javelin winner Barbora Spotakova won for the 6th time the Czech Athlete of the Year award in 2012. During an glittering evening transmitted live by main public station channel in Saturday´s evening prime time legendary Jan Zelezny was honoured Coach of the Year, Revelation of the Year award went to another javelin thrower Vitezslav Vesely (coached by Zelezny as Spotakova). He was third in the overall ranking behind olympic bronze winner at 400 m hurdles Zuzana Hejnova. Junior of the year was walker Anezka Drahotova. The whole relay team 4x400 m (Bartonickova, Hejnova, Bergrova, Rosolova) performed greatly Spice Girls during the evening. Legendary Czech pop singer Karel Gott was the main musical highlight of the evening. Spotakova got 1518 points in the vote of officials, coaches, journalists ahead of Hejnova 1316 and Vesely 1217. European champion at 400 m Pavel Maslak was fourth (958) ahead of another Helsinki winner pole vaulter Jirina Ptacnikova (939). Sixth place for hurdler Denisa Rosolova (784) ahead of 800 m World indoor silver holder Jakub Holusa (410), hammer thrower Lukas Melich (406), pole vaulter Jan Kudlicka (326) and the women 4x400 m team (252). 


JOHANNESBURG (RSA): South African media are informing that former high jump world champion Jacques Freitag was arrested after he was allegedly found in possession of the drug Cat (methcathinone). The Beeld reported on Saturday. Freitag was stopped by Tshwane police on Friday moring after he allegedly ran a red traffic light in Bronkhorstspruit. Police spokeswoman Captain Sarah Mcira said Freitag would remain in custody through the weekend.

TOKYO (JPN): According to the Japanese press, the organizers of the marathon in Beijing changed their decision to ban Japanese athletes to participate. The organizers had initially decided to prohibit the participation of Japanese runners for November 25 race for safety reasons due to tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. The daily Shimbun and Jiji Press agency said on Sunday that Japanese nationality, which did not appear in the list box for the online registration form was reintroduced.

ATHENS (GRE): In a ceremony broadcast live on Greek national television on Friday evening, marathon luminaries Patrick Makau of Kenya and Rosa Mota of Portugal were honoured with awards at a Gala Dinner on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of both the Association of International Marathons (AIMS), and the Athens Classic Marathon. The champion pair was also present in the town of Marathon itself on Saturday morning when, in the presence of the celebrated Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, they lit the Marathon Flame at the Bridge of Marathon, where the 30th edition of the revived race will begin at 9am on Sunday morning, and be run on the original course used for the inaugural Olympic marathon at the first Games of the modern era in 1896. Writes Pat Butcher. 


TARNBY (DEN, Nov 10): Norway teams won 3 out 4 competitions at the Nordic CC Championships in Denmark. Men, women and junior boys were the best. Only in junior girls category the top position went to Sweden. In the individual races two wins for Denmark and Sweden each. Abdi Ulad of Denmark won the men´s 9 km in 26:23 ahead of Mikael Ekvall of Sweden 26:33 and Norway´s duo Asbjorn Persen 26:37 and Sylta Oystein 26:38. Home Simone Glad won the women 7.5 km in 26:03 beating Ulrika Flodin of Sweden 26:07 and Veronika Blom of Norway 26:11. Junior wins for Sweden, Napoleon Solomon (18:41 at boys 6 km) and Agnes Sjostrom (14:56, girls 4.5 km). 

BEIRUT (LIB, Nov 11): Under difficult weather conditions, Ethiopians Kedir Fekadu and Saeda Kedir were victorious at the tenth edition of the BLOM Beirut Marathon in 2:12:57 and 2:35:08. Informs the IAAF. The rain and windy conditions did not stop more than 33,000 participants from filling the streets of the city. In the men category the winner was followed by Kenyans Stephen Chepkopol in second place with a time of 2:13:14, and William Kipsang in third with 2:14:53. In the women's race second Kenyan Monica Jepkoech (2:36:20) with Mary Akor of the USA third (2:37:32).

VOLPIANO (ITA, Nov 11): At the 8th Cross della Volpe wins for Fatna Maraoui (25:44 at 7 km) and Stefano La Rosa (28:16 at 9 km). In the men race second Patrick Nasti 28:45 and third Gabriele De Nard 28:50.

PFORZHEIM (GER, Nov 10): German CC season continued with another qualification race here towards the European CC Championships in Hungary. Annika John who belongs to U23 category was the top home runner at the 6 km race in 21:55. Swiss Fabienne Schlumpf was the winner in 21:44. Michael Schramm (U23) as the best German male runner at 8.4 km vgot 27:08, winning Kenyan Phuilip Rutto 26:57. Dominating performances by top juniors Maya Rehberg (4.2, km, 15:10) and Johannes Motschmann (6 km, 19:12). 

MARTIGNY (SUI, Nov 10): Eritrean Abraham Tadesse won the 37th  Corrida d'Octodure at 8.65 km in 25:21 ahead of Kenyan Bernard Matheka (25:22). Women winner at 5.6 km was Russian Marina Kovaleva 18:52.

BIEL (SUI, Nov 11): At Biel-Benne cross country Kenyan wins for Bernard Matheka (24:12 at 8 km) and Jane Muia (22:44 at 6.4 km). 

COLOMBO (SRI, Nov 10): Sri Lankan national triple jump record 16.37 by  Eranda Dinesh Fernando during the 90th National Championships.

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