As the 67th edition of the Campaccio-International Cross Country, the Italian leg of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold series, looms large on the horizon, Kenyan sensations Daniel Simiu Ebenyo and Nelly Chepchirchir are gearing up for an exhilarating showdown in San Giorgio su Legnano this Saturday.
Ebenyo, at 28 years old, has emerged as the pre-event men’s favorite, fueled by his remarkable performances in 2023.
After securing a commendable sixth place at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst last February, Ebenyo went on to claim silver medals in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Budapest and the half marathon at the World Road Running Championships in Riga.
His latest triumph came on December 17th in Kolkata, where he dominated the 25km event in a world-best time of 1:11:13.
Eager to challenge Ebenyo’s supremacy is Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo, eyeing redemption after finishing third in 2021 and fourth in 2022 at Campaccio.
Chelimo, the younger brother of the accomplished Jacob Kiplimo, brings a stellar track record, having clinched world 5000m bronze in Oregon in 2022 and a podium finish at the Cross Internacional de San Sebastian in November.
Burundi’s Celestin Ndikumana and Egide Ntakarutimana are also expected to pose a formidable challenge.
Ndikumana, a victor in the World Cross Country Tour Gold race in Amorebieta, and Ntakarutimana, who finished fifth in last year’s Campaccio, aim to follow the footsteps of their compatriot Rodrigue Kwizera, the reigning champion.
The Italian contingent, led by marathon runners Nekagenet Crippa, Iliass Aouani, and Yohanes Chiappinelli, adds another layer of excitement.
Crippa, who recently achieved an Olympic Games qualification standard, looks to build on his impressive performances in Rome and Valencia. Aouani, with a marathon debut time of 2:08:34, seeks to capitalize on his previous appearances at Campaccio, while Chiappinelli, the 2018 European 3000m steeplechase bronze medallist, brings a unique blend of speed and stamina.
Meanwhile, in the women’s race, Italian distance running star Nadia Battocletti, fresh off her silver medal at the European Cross Country Championships, is set to headline the competition. Her rivals include Burundi’s Francine Niyomukunzi and Micheline Niyomahoro, along with a strong contingent of Italian contenders, making the women’s race equally compelling.
As the athletes descend upon San Giorgio su Legnano, the stage is set for a thrilling display of athleticism and determination at the Campaccio-International Cross Country.
Fans worldwide eagerly await the unfolding drama on Saturday, anticipating whether Ebenyo and Chepchirchir can etch their names into the prestigious list of Campaccio champions.