Olympians McCormack and Kipruto aiming for Victories at Antrim International
12 January 2017
Top Home Countries cross country runner Fionnuala McCormack and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto will be aiming for victories in tomorrow's IAAF International Cross Country at Greenmount which is part of a World Series.
The organisers have ensured that the consistently high quality of this 40 year old event has been maintained ever since the first running of the event back in 1977 which featured a certain Brendan Foster.
An in form McCormack has serious aspirations towards achieving a hat trick of wins in the 5.6 k event following previous victories in 2012 and 2013. The Olympic marathon runner has hit a purple patch following her impressive runner up spot in the Edinburgh Cross a few days ago.
Predicted snowy weather conditions will hold no fears for the 31 year old who will be hoping that Greenmount will herald the start of another successful year with her main aim being the marathon in London's World Championships.
Fionnuala will certainly be to the fore from the gun with her main opposition possibly coming from Kenya's Caroline Kipkiru who is a former African champion and a World top 20 runner over 10,000 metres. Others in contention include Romania's Ancuta Bobocel who McCormack defeated in Edinburgh plus Ethiopia's Birtukan Adamu who was 3rd in this race in 2015.
Ireland's Shona Heaslip and England's Pippa Woolven plus Louise Small should also be among the leaders. The NI challenge will be led by Fionnuala Ross and Gladys Ganiel.
A winner in the Men's 8K event is hard to predict given that many of the big names are better known for their track success. The biggest of all is of course 22 year old Olympic steeplechase champion Kipruto who followed a series of World leading times last year with victory in Rio.
The flambuoyant Kenyan rarely races over the country and may well rely on his sprint finish in order to secure victory tomorrow. The African will want to start his year with a win on route to proving that 2017 will again confirm him as the World's top steeplechaser.
Rio steeplechase 4th placer Soufiane El Bakkali of Morroco, Olympic 10,000 metres finalist Abraham Cheroben of Barhain and France's Hassan Chahdi who was 7th in last year's European Half Marathon should also be vying for top placings.
GB Olympians Andy Vernon and Derek Hawkins will do their best to control the African challenge with Vernon hoping to repeat his recent 5th place form in the Europeans. Scott Rankin and Adam Kirk Smith lead the NI team.
The race programme starts at 11 am with the Internationals from 1.55 pm.
More information available at www.athleticsni.org