The famous Cinque Mulini cross country meeting in the Italian town of San Vittore Olona will celebrate its 83rd edition on Sunday (15) and spectators are potentially going be treated to a battle between Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris and Kenya’s Jairus Birech at the ninth of this winter’s IAAF Cross Country Permit meetings.
Edris, the fastest 5000m runner in the world in 2014, will be bidding to take his second Cinque Mulini title two years after winning a close sprint ahead of Bahrain’s Albert Rop. The young Ethiopian runner, then a teenager, went on to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships junior men’s bronze medal in Bydgoszcz a few weeks later.
He showed his recent good form winning two top Italian road races, the Giro di Trento and the Boclassic in Bolzano and he will be looking to do better than 12 months ago in this race when he could only finish fifth in the defense of his title.
Birech dominated last year’s Diamond Race in the 3000m steeplechase and clocked the fastest time in the world in 2014, and the seventh fastest time in history, with 7:58.41 at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels last September.
Two more Kenyan runners, Alex Kibet and Thomas Lokomwa, are also part of the elite men’s field.
Kibet, winner of the last two editions of the Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels, will return to San Vittore Olona where he finished runner-up last year to his compatriot Paul Tanui last year.
Lokomwa is well known to Italian cross country and road running fans. Last year, he finished third in San Vittore Olona and won the Stramilano Half Marathon.
Poland’s 2014 European Championships 3000m steeplechase silver medalist Krystian Zalewski as well as the Italian runners Patrick Nasti and Marouan Razine will lead the European challenge.
If the odds are very long that European runners will take the honors in the men’s race, they are significantly short in the women’s contest.