Addis Ababa February 04/2013 Ethiopia got a winning double at the 81st edition of the Cinque Mulini cross country race in San Vittore Olona, Italy, an IAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting, with 2012 World Junior Championships 5000m gold medalist Muktar Edris and his compatriot Afera Godfay taking the honors on Sunday.
Muktar came out on top of a hard-fought battle over 10.3km with Kenya's 18 year-old Albert Rop by just one second, 30:08 to 30:09.
In the women’s 6.45km race, Afera was a more decisive winner in 21:56, beating Kenya's Eunice Kales by 16 seconds.
A big group led by Rop and featuring all the favorites Muktar, Uganda's Thomas Ayeko, Kenya's Bernard Rotich, Poland's Krisztian Zalewksi and the Italians Mohammed El Mounim, Gianmarco Buttazzo and Bernard Dematteis were at the front after the first of two short laps.
The race heated up during the second circuit when Rop, Rotich, Ayeko and Muktar pulled away from the rest of the field to form the leading quartet.
Rop, who won at the Diekirch IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in Luxembourg last Sunday, took a slight lead on the first of four big laps with 12 minutes on the clock and continued to stay in the front for most of the race.
After four laps, with just two big laps remaining, Rop and Muktar had a small but decisive one second advantage over 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships junior men's silver medalist Ayeko and 2012 Cinque Mulini runner up Rotich.
On the penultimate lap, Rop and Muktar edged further away from the two men behind them and at the bell had a two-second gap over Ayeko who, in turn, was now nine seconds in front of Rotich.
On the final lap, the gap between the leading pair and the rest continued to grow as Ayeko struggled.
Rop ran in the front for most of the last lap and tried to break away from Muktar, but it was all to no avail as the latter stayed on his heels before kicking for home in the final straight.
Rotich overtook Ayeko midway around late on the final lap and took third place by four seconds in 30:41.
Muktar, who has just turned 19, has now completed an impressive winter campaign in which he scored the hat-trick in the major Italian cross country races in less than a month, winning the Campaccio in San Giorgio su Legnano, the Vallagarina in Rovereto and now the Cinque Mulini.
The women's race saw Afera, Kales and Italian runners Touria Samiri and Valeria Roffino break away during the first short lap.
Roffino was the first runner to be dropped during the second larger lap and the African pair then left Samiri behind before Afera surged away just before 4km.
The young Ethiopian had a gap of four seconds over Kales at the bell and went on to increase her lead steadily during the last lap.