Can anyone stop Merga and Ayalew in Atapuerca?

MergaDefending champions Imane Merga and Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia will return to Burgos on Sunday (16) for the 11th Cross Internacional de Atapuerca, the first of three Spanish races scheduled for the 2014-15 IAAF Cross Country Permit Series.

The organisers have assembled a star-studded line-up to take on three-time Cross de Atapuerca winner Merga, including world cross-country champion Japhet Korir and world cross bronze medallist Teklemariam Medhin. With Merga having taken the silver medal in Bydgoszcz last year, it means the whole podium from the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be present.

Korir provided a major surprise in taking the senior men’s title in Bydgoszcz to become the youngest ever senior champion, but he did not shine on the track that summer. The young Kenyan has had mixed success in 2014 too, clocking 1:02:41 on his half marathon debut in March in The Hague, then running a season’s best of 28:19 over 10km one month later.

Now back racing on the surface with which he is most suited, the 21-year-old will be eager to bounce back from his last year’s outing in Atapuerca when he had to settle for sixth place.

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