Commonwealth 10,000m champion Stella Chesang is the woman to beat this weekend at Cross International de Italica

The 22-year-old Ugandan finished a fine second in Elgoibar last Sunday and should be regarded as one of the main favorites at this weekend’s 9135m event. Kenya’s current world 3000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who came third in Elgoibar some 17 seconds behind Chesang, will arguably be the Ugandan’s fiercest opponent alongside Ethiopia’s Gete Alemayehu, the 20-year-old who won the Houilles 10km on 30 December in a massive lifetime best of 31:12.

Turkey’s Yasmine Can had a below-par performance in Elgoibar where she had to settle for a distant fourth but the triple European cross country champion should be eager to bounce back and be in the hunt for the podium places.

Spain’s Trihas Gebre, Uganda’s Esther Chebet and Kenya’s Hellen Ekarare Lobun will be aiming for a top-five finish. The Ethiopian-born Spaniard is fresh from a national 10km record of 31:39 in Valencia last Sunday while Chebet clocked 31:53 at Madrid’s New Year’s eve race where Gebre clocked 31:40. As for Lobun, she was a creditable fifth over 5000m at last summer’s World U20 Championships and boasts a 15:16:53 PB. The 19-year-old Kenyan will be making her first outing of the year.

posted Friday January 18th