Merga and Oljira secure Ethiopian double in Atapuerca

Muktar Edris Imane MergaThe 11th ‘Cross Internacional de Atapuerca’ marked the opening leg of this winter’s IAAF Cross Country Permit series which will reach the pinnacle with the IAAF World Cross Country Championships next March and saw victories from the Ethiopian duo Imane Merga and Belaynesh Oljira on Sunday 16.

Right from the gun, the men’s race – held in cold conditions as the thermometer barely reached 7 degrees Celsius, and with very strong winds – turned into a two-man battle between Merga and his compatriot Muktar Edris

Edris immediately started with a brisk pace which was only followed by Merga, while Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin and Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich had already lost 15 metres to the Ethiopians at the one kilometre point despite taking turns trying not to lose ground.

Wearing identical orange vests, Edris and Merga looked in impressive form but it was always Edris who made the pace while the former world champion Merga ran comfortably just behind him, copying his tactics from the last three editions in Atapuerca where he had taken narrow sprint finish wins.

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