There is nothing like winning a medal on home soil and that could be the prize awaiting Portugal’s Mariana Machado in just a few weeks’ time.

The SPAR European Cross Country Championships will be held in Lisbon on 8 December and Machado warmed up for the event with a brilliant performance at the Cross Internacional de Soria, Spain, on Sunday (17). 

Machado, who turned 19 only last week, won 3000m silver at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras in July but the teenager tasted senior success in Soria, winning over 8km with a brilliant sprint finish. In doing so, Machado became the first Portuguese winner of this race and the first European winner since Zulema Fuentes-Pila in 2002.

Machado won in 27:49, just edging out Bahrain’s former world marathon champion Rose Chelimo who was given the same time. Spain’s Teresa Urbina finished third in 28:01, just ahead of teammate Ana Lozano fourth in 28:05. Both are likely to feature on the Spanish team in Lisbon next month.

Speaking to World Athletics, Machado said: “It’s my second win this cross country season as I won in Palencia (Spain) two weeks ago so I’m on the right path ahead of the European Championships to be held in my country.”

Last year in Tilburg, Machado was 15th in the U20 race but she will now be one of the favourites this time, although she will face stern opposition from the likes of reigning champion Nadia Battocletti from Italy and European U20 1500m champion Delia Sclabas from Switzerland. 

Having won in Atapuerca the previous weekend, Spain’s Ouassim Oumaiz was easily the leading home athlete again in fourth this time in the senior men’s race in 10km in 29:28, only twelve seconds behind Ugandan winner Maxwell Rotich.

Qualification for the Portuguese mixed relay team in Lisbon also took place at the Cross Internacional Cidade de Amora on Sunday, with Paulo Rosario and Salome Alfonso the quickest in the 1.5km races in 4:19 and 5:02 respectively.

In the same event, Antonio Silva won the senior men’s race in 28:38 and Mariam Martins took the women’s event in 30:06 to enhance their selection hopes.

Gressier finishes fourth in Allonnes

France’s Jimmy Gressier, 22, is on course for a hat-trick of titles in the U23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. On Sunday in Allonnes, he warmed up for Lisbon by finishing fourth in the senior men’s race in Cross Le Maine Libre.

Over 9.04km, Gressier clocked 26:17 in a race won by Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo in 25:32. He was some distance behind the winner but Gressier took some notable scalps, including reigning world U20 cross country champion Milkesha Mengesha in fifth (26:29) and former European senior cross country champion Hassan Chahdi in sixth (29:30). 

Sophie Duarte, who won the European cross country title in 2013, was the leading Frenchwoman in the senior women’s 6.05km in fifth in 20:18 with Kenyan Jackline Cherono first in 19:05.

At the Cross National Val-de-Marne in Creteil on Sunday, there were French victories for Mehdi Frere in the men’s 8.8 km in 27:16 and Manon Trapp the women 4.5km in 5:04.

Burkard returns from injury with victory in Pforzheim

After missing the summer campaign due to injury, Elena Burkard returned to competition with victory on home soil at the Sparkassen Cross in Pforzheim on Saturday (16).

Fifth and sixth at the last two editions of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, Burkard won the senior women’s 6.6km in 25:04 while Ilyas Yonis Osman won the men’s 9km in 31:51. 

Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli produced another good run as he chases mixed relay success at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, winning the road 8km at the Corrida Bulloise in Bulle, Switzerland in 22:55.6. 

Elsewhere on the roads, there was a memorable run for Great Britain’s Jake Smith at the Boulogne-Billancourt Half Marathon in Paris, breaking the British U23 record by finishing fifth in 62:02 as Kenya’s Felix Kipkoech won in 60:12.

At the Seven Hills Run in Nijmegen, Susan Krumins led the way for the Dutch hosts as she finished fifth in 49:38. World 10,000m silver medallist Letesenbet Gidey from Ethiopia shattered the world 15km best with 44:20.

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