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Uganda’s Toroitich destroys cross country field in Spain

Toroitich wins. IAAF PHOTO
Toroitich wins. IAAF PHOTO

Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich continued his preparations for the World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 by winning Sunday’s 35th Cross Internacional de la Constitución (Alcobendas) on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain.

Toroitich’s victory in the second leg  race of the 2016-17 IAAF Cross Country Permit series, was his second race win of the season and his fourth consecutive podium finish at this event. Fionnuala McCormack of Ireland dominated the women’s contest, winning by 38 seconds.

“I had already competed here several times in the past and knew the circuit was tough but this year was even more difficult and there was a lot of mud and I sometimes found it difficult to remain upright,” Toroitich told He said he will now return home to prepare for the Ugandan trials for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017.

“That’s an important campaign for me as the world cross country championships will take place in my country, although it’s still early days to know what kind of performance I can expect there.”

Two weeks back, Toroitich had finished second in the opening race of this winter’s IAAF Cross Country Permit series as Bahrain’s Aweke Ayalew ended Imane Merga’s historic streak at the 13th ‘Cross Internacional de Atapuerca. Atapuerca was the first of seven individual meetings in four different countries which make up the 2016/2017 IAAF Cross Country Permit series.

During the course of the three months after Atapuerca, many of the world’s finest distance runners will take part in the IAAF Cross Country Permit series before its conclusion at the Almond Blossom meeting in Albufeira, Portugal.

The focus of all the leading runners competing in the series will be the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017, which will celebrate its 42nd edition on 26 March.

IAAF Cross Country Permit calendar 2016/17
13 Nov – Burgos, ESP
27 Nov – Alcobendas, ESP
6 Jan – San Giorgio su Legnano, ITA
14 Jan – Antrim, GBR
15 Jan – Seville, ESP
22 Jan – San Vittore Olona, ITA
5 Feb – Albufeira, POR

How Toroitich won

The men’s 10,060m event featured a breakaway group of five by the second kilometre consisiting of Toroitich, Eritreans Aron and Goitom Kifle, Bahrain’s El Hassan El Abbassi and Kenyan Jairus Birech. It was Toroitich who controlled the early going with Aron Kifle running closest.

Shortly after the third kilometre the Ugandan built a small lead but Kifle and Birech met the challenge and rejoined the leader.

The following 2300-metre loop, covered in 6:58 by the leading trio, didn’t offer any dramatic changes. My the midway point, El Abbassi and Goitom Kifle ran in solitude six and nine seconds behind while Spain’s Ayad Lamdassem and Italy’s Yemanem Crippa fiercely battled to be first European home.

Some 16 minutes into the race Birech could no longer match Toroitich’s rhythm turning the race into a two-horse battle just as a rain began to fall. Much as had been the case last weekend in Soria, Toroitich’s relentless pace reaped dividends by the seventh kilometre when he dropped Kifle.

By the bell (7:01 for the penultimate circuit), the Ugandan led Kifle by eight seconds, who in turn was three seconds ahead of Birech. Crippa was running sixth as the top European, 37 seconds adrift with Lamdassem another four seconds back.

Facing a course mixed with rain and mud, the last lap proved to be especially tough for the competitors. Toroitich seemed unaffected, padding his lead throughout the closing stages to romp home in 30:52, nine seconds clear of the 19-year-old Eritrean. Birech completed a classy podium 14 seconds behind the victor.

With El Abbassi and Gotom Kifle securing the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, attention turned to the fight for sixth place, with Lamdassem prevailing over Crippa in the very last metre, with both athletes credited with the same time of 31:43.


27 Nov – Top 10, Alcobendas, ESP

MEN (10,060m) –
1. Timothy Toroitich (UGA) 30:52
2. Aron Kifle (ERI) 31:01
3. Jairus Birech (KEN) 31:06
4. El Hassan El Abbassi (BRN) 31:14
5. Goitom Kifle (ERI) 31:36
6. Ayad Lamdassem (ESP) 31:43
7. Yemanem Crippa (ITA) 31:43
8. Sergio Sánchez (ESP) 31:57
9. Adel Mechaal (ESP) 32:03
10. Ayoub Mokhtar (ESP) 32:06

Women (8060m)
1. Fionnuala Mc Cormack (IRL) 28:18
2. Etenesh Diro (ETH) 28:56
3. Trihas Gebre (ESP) 29:21
4. Irene Sánchez (ESP) 29:53
5. Alessandra Aguilar (ESP) 30:11
6. Iris Fuentes Pila (ESP) 30:15
7. Azucena Díaz (ESP) 30:17
8. Veronica Inglese (ITA) 30:18
9. Ana Lozano(ESP) 30:26
10. Tania Carretero (ESP) 30:36

13 Nov – Burgos, ESP

Men (9km)
1 Aweke Ayalew (BRN) 25:05
2 Timothy Toroitich (UGA) 25:05
3 Imane Merga (ETH) 25:12
4 Muktar Edris (ETH) 25:22
5 Jairus Birech (KEN) 25:24
6 Phillip Kipyeko (UGA) 25:30
7 Antonio Abadia (ESP) 25:34
8 Ilias Fifa (ESP) 25:35
9 Jaouad Tougane (MAR) 25:35
10 Carlos Mayo (ESP) 25:39

Women (8km)
1 Senbere Teferi (ETH) 24:48
2 Agnes Jebet Tirop (KEN) 24:52
3 Alice Aprot (KEN) 24:58
4 Belaynesh Oljira (ETH) 25:11
5 Fionnuala McCormack (IRL) 25:26
6 Sofia Ennaoui (POL) 26:15
7 Trihas Gebre (ESP) 26:22
8 Kate Hulls (GBR) 26:24
9 Elinor Kirk (GBR) 26:32
10 Juliet Chekwel (UGA) 26:40

**Additional reporting by


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