Ethiopians dominate at Villa Lagarina XC

Ethiopians dominate at Villa Lagarina XC

Provided by IAAF

Villa Lagarina, Italy - Ethiopia claimed a winning sweep at the 35th edition of the International EA Cross Country race in Villa Lagarina near Rovereto on Sunday (15). Kinde Atanau topped the bill in the men’s race and Berha Aftera Godfay won the women’s race.

The Vallagarina Cross organised by the local club Quercia Rovereto was held on a sunny day.

Atanau produced a strong last lap to beat his compatriot Haftu Fikadu by 11 seconds in the men’s 8Km race crossing the finish-line in 25:27. Ethiopia claimed the top-three spots on the podium with Mokashaw Kassa third in 25:43.

The East African country also dominated the women’s 5.5Km race. Afera Godfay confirmed her recent good form by taking the honours in 19:15 four seconds ahead of her compatriot Gidey Roman. Italian Agnes Tschurtschenthaler broke the Ethiopian domination by finishing third in 19:38.

Men’s race -

The men’s race set off at a fast pace thanks to the early initiative of Ukrainian Vasyl Matvichuk who went to the lead during the first lap in the early stages of the race ahead of Gabriele De Nard and the African group formed by four Ethiopians (Atanau, Kassa, Fikadu and Abrhaa Gebretsadik) and Kenyan Kimeli Kisorio and nine-time European Cross Country champion Sergiy Lebid.

The Ethiopian quartet caught Matvichuk during the second lap. Atanau, Kassa, Fikadu and Gebretsadik pushed their pace opening a gap. Matvichuk and Lebid tried to keep their pace but lost ground.

With three laps to go three men (Atanau, Kassa and Fikadu) broke away on the uphill section of the course. The race really hotted up in the last lap when Atanau, third at the Campaccio in San Giorgio su Legnano, pulled away from Kassa and Fikadu building up a gap of about ten seconds. After producing a decisive surge during the last lap Atanau still continued to push hard in the final straight and crossed the finish line in 25:27. Heftu Fikadu, who is a junior runner, held off Kassa for second place.

Lebid, winner in Rovereto in 2003 and 2004, held off Matvichuk and finished fifth and first European in 26:10.

Atanau was the second Ethiopian in the 35-year-old history of the Vallagarina Cross to take the win after Abera Chane in 2010.

Women’s race -

A big group led by Ethiopians Afera Godfay and Gidey Roman and Italians Agnes Tschurtschenthaler and Fatna Maraoui set off at a conservative pace in the race’s early stages.

After a tactical start to the race, it really hotted when the two Ethiopians increased their pace breaking away over the uphill section of the course during the second lap. Godfay, who recently finished second in the Boclassic race in Bolzano and third at the Campaccio Cross Country race and Roman carved out a solid margin in the last lap. Godfay produced her decisive surge pulling away from Roman and romped home in 19:16 beating the compatriot by three seconds.

Local favourite Agnes Tschurtschenthaler ran a good race finishing third in 19:38 in her final test before the Italian Cross Country Championships in Borgo Valsugana on 29th January.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Results from the 35th edition of the Vallagarina Cross Country race:

Men’s race (8.6 km) -

1. Kinde Atanau (Ethiopia) 25:27

2. Haftu Fikadu (Ethiopia) 25:38

3. Mokeshaw Kassa (Ethiopia) 25:43

4. Abrhaa Gebretsadik (Ethiopia) 26:05

5. Sergiy Lebid (Ukraine) 26:10

6. Vasyl Matvichuk (Ukraine) 26:16

7. Kosea Kimeli Kisorio (Kenya) 26:16

8. Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 26:17

9. Mark Bett (Kenya) 26:29

10. Peter Bii (Kenya) 26:29

Women’s race (5.5 km) -

1. Afera Godfay (Ethiopia) 19:16

2. Gidey Roman (Ethiopia) 19:19

3. Agnes Tschurtschenthaler (Italy) 19:38

4. Fatna Maraoui (Italy) 19:47

5. Federica Dal Ri (Italy) 19:48

6. Angela Rinicella (Italy) 19:51

7. Angelina Nyransabimana (Rwanda) 20:02

8. Lucia Sekanova (Czech Republic) 20:02

9. Simona Santini (Italy) 20:03

10. Silvia La Barbera (Italy) 20:08