Date: Tuesday, 01 March 2022
Rodrigue Kwizera and Rahel Daniel, two of the biggest breakthrough performers over the past few months, continued their good run of form on the Cross Country Tour Gold series when winning at the Almond Blossom Cross Country in Albufeira on Sunday (27).
Both races were relatively close with Kwizera of Burundi winning the men’s 8.45km race by four seconds from Kenya’s Benson Kiplangat, while Eritrea’s Daniel finished one second ahead of Ethiopia’s Likina Amebaw in the women’s 6.37km event.
Kwizera was always in contention throughout, and he was joined by Kiplangat, the world U20 5000m champion, and Ugandan teenager Rodgers Kibet for the first three 2km laps. After an opening circuit of 6:23, the pace increased as the lead trio covered the second lap in 6:03. Their tempo decreased only slightly on the third lap, which was covered in 6:06, but with about 19 minutes on the clock, Kibet started to struggle with the pace.
It left Kwizera and Kiplangat out in front, their margin over Kibet growing all the time. Just before the final turn into the finishing straight, Kwizera kicked hard and opened up a gap on his young Kenyan rival, who was contesting his first ever race outside of his home country. Kwizera crossed the line in 24:21, four seconds ahead of Kiplangat. Kibet finished third in 24:33. Portugal’s Samuel Barata was next to finish, albeit more than two minutes later.
Kwizera’s victory means he consolidates his lead in the Cross Country Tour standings with just one more Gold level meeting left in the series.
The women’s race, also a three-runner battle for much of the way, was even closer. Daniel, Amebaw and Kenya’s Lucy Mawia – all of whom feature in the top five in the Cross Country Tour standings – ran together through the first lap (7:24) and then the second (14:24). Soon after, Mawia lost contact with Daniel and Amebaw, the defending champion, as the remaining duo continued to run side by side.
In the end, though, Daniel proved to have the stronger finish and she held off her long-time challenger to win by one second in 21:09. Mawia finished third in 21:45, more than a minute ahead of fourth-placed Siham Hilali of Morocco (22:50).
With her win in Albufeira, Daniel moves into the lead in the Cross Country Tour standings. Amebaw and Mawia, meanwhile, will move into joint second place.
1 Rahel Daniel (ERI) 21:09
2 Likina Amebaw (ETH) 21:10
3 Lucy Muwia (KEN) 21:45
4 Siham Hilali (MAR) 22:50
5 Susana Cunha (POR) 23:53
1 Rodrique Kwizera (BDI) 24:21
2 Benson Kiplangat (KEN) 24:25
3 Rodgers Kibet (UGA) 24:33
4 Samuel Barata (POR) 26:43
5 Karel Hussar (EST) 27:18