The latest racing of the ‘Cross Italica’ took place in Seville, Spain on November 12th 2023.
England Cross Country teams regularly frequent this event and this year it was deemed ideally placed in the calendar at 2 weeks prior to the UK European Cross Country Trial at Liverpool.
In the men’s race Ellis Cross, Jacob Allen, Jack Gray and Callum Elson lined up against an incredibly strong field over what was to be a 9.9k of very dry and hard course under foot with a little softer woodland for only a few hundred metres each lap the race run in temperatures reaching 25C by early afternoon. The atmosphere was very noisy with music blaring over the tannoy system, drones hovering overhead while filming and several hot air balloons offering prime elevated viewing of the races ( only raising up and down not actually flying) along with what seemed a large and in some cases boisterous crowd as Roman Gladiators in full costume added to the atmosphere of the event.
A compact and a fast start ensued as the athletes took off on what was to be 4 Laps of a subtly undulating twisting course held in the grounds of an ancient Roman dig site.
The 4 English lads, spurred on by one another after a weekend of banter, took positions close to one another at around 20th place after the initial sprint off the start line had settled. This didn’t change a great deal during the first lap of 2.2km as the race snaked its way along the various turns on the course.
However, on the 2nd lap it was evident that many positions were now established and that Cross was moving well and moved up a little to 18th while Elson and Gray were only a few places behind back in 21st/22nd place – also there was no sign of Allen at this stage later confirming he had pulled out feeling unwell.
Lap 2 appeared to go quick and allowed all athletes to settle in their positions ready to battle with their peers around them.
As they entered Lap 3 it had a similar theme with Cross moving up to 17th place while Gray and Elson hovered around 21st neck and neck having a battle of the Cambridge & Coleridge athletes. With 3 laps completed and 1 lap of 2.2k left the places started to look settled but Cross had manoeuvred his way to 14th with a lap to go and a battle on the last lap saw him move to 13th and even contend 12th at some periods of that final lap. Cross coming home a more than credible 13th while the battle between Gray and Elson was won by the more endurance based Gray in 20th with Elson (recently 2nd in the inaugural official World Road Mile in Riga) 23rd.
Ahead of the English runners the up front battle of the Kenyans went to the wire with a neck and neck finished not split on times only positions Kwemoi getting the nod from his countryman on the line.
1 Ronald Kwemoi, Kenya 29m09
2 Hillary Kipchirchir Chepkwony Kenya 29m09
3 Rodrigue Kwizera, Burundi 29m11
4 Ismael Kipkurui, Kenya 29m16
5 Mohamed Katir El Haouzi, Spain 29m29
13 Ellis Cross, England 30m37
20 Jack Gray, England 31m02
23 Callum Elson, England 31m15