Grøvdal wins in Dublin again with strong final lap

by Clay Shaw

Dublin, Ireland, European Cross Country, Senior Women’s 8K, December 12, 2021—Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal  of Norway only led for one lap – the important last lap – as she powered away from all competition to win by 20 seconds.  Grøvdal, who won in Dublin in 2009 as a U20 athlete, has had many podiums since, but no golds.  Grøvdal won in 2021 in 26:34 over the 8000-meter course.

After the race Grøvdal said, “I have won so many bronze and silver medals at European level – both on the track and in cross country – so for me to take the gold today means a lot. I am so happy for having been able to do that. It was a really tough and strong field, with so many good athletes on the starting line, so it is extra special to win gold. It was not only until the last lap that I realised that I would be able to take the win. I saw the Swedish girl, Meraf [BAHTA] falling behind, but I knew it was going to be a tough one from there. I think the start wasn’t easy, as I was a little behind, which made me feel a bit concerned, but then I slowly caught up with the girls leading the pack – that’s also the reason I still had some energy left towards the end. I felt very relieved coming down the home stretch – I am 31 now, and 12 years ago I took gold here in Dublin, and in the U20 race, so after so many silver and bronze medals, today it felt very special to take gold here in Dublin. Clearly, Dublin has been good to me, and, perhaps I should leave it that like that.”

Meraf Bahta of Sweden, who led on laps 1 and 3, would place second in 26:44.  “I feel good, I’m so happy. It was a tough course. I did a fast first couple of laps so it was tough some moments after that, but I’m feeling good and feeling strong. It’s a nice course and I enjoyed it, but I still think I went off too fast in the first few laps, but there is always next time!”

Yasemin Can of Turkey, the 2019 Lisbon champ, led lap two, but soon faded and finished 14th in 28:38.

Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany took the lead on lap four, but faded on the final lap to finish finish fifth in 27:12. 

Klosterhalfen was passed by German teammate Alina Reh who earned the bronze with a great finish in 26:53. “I had two really tough years recently – I was injured, and missed the Olympic Games – so this medal means a lot to me after such a tough time. I am really, really happy with this result. Indeed, I felt that I had something to prove [after winning gold and the U23 European Championships two years ago]. I knew I am capable, but had to overcome my emotions and mental block – it turned out well, so I am really happy. I am glad I had my team behind me. Our plan was always to win a medal – we hoped for that – and we got the silver, which was great. We are very thankful and proud.”

Jessica Judd of GBR was fourth in 27:01, and led Great Britain to the team title, with Germany placing second, and Sweden taking third.

Fionnuala McCormack of Ireland was coming off a 2:23:58 marathon in Valencia, Spain on December 5, the second fastest in Irish history. In her 17th European Cross Country appearance, McCormack placed ninth in 27:52.  The 4-time Olympian, won European Cross Country titles in 2011 and 2012. “It was always going to be tough to be up at the front of that race, but that’s where I wanted to be. It was great out there. The support was unbelievable. It’s amazing to run a race where you just hear everyone roaring at you. I suppose when you go away from home you hear people shouting your second name or your country at you, but when everyone is shouting “Fionnuala” at you, it is nice. I passed one of the British girls at the end and I’d say she was just like, “Oh, I know what’s coming here,” because the crowd was so loud. It was great to be here again. In Dublin, 11 or 12 years ago, I had a really tough race and today was tough, but it was better, and I think overall the teams, the U23 lads earlier, the whole day, it was massive with the top five and top ten finishes – it was brilliant.”

The races were predicted to be cold, rainy, and windy, and thankfully they were not.  Nevertheless, parts of the course were quite muddy from weather conditions leading up to the Sunday meet.  The event was superbly organized by the local organizing committee, on the amazing Sport Ireland grounds, about seven miles northwest of the city center of Dublin.

Top 30 Individual Results

  1. 26:34 Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal, Norway
  2. 26:44 Meraf Bahta, Sweden
  3. 26:53 Alina Reh, Germany
  4. 27:01 Jessica Judd, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  5. 27:12 Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Germany
  6. 27:34 Samrawit Mengsteab, Sweden
  7. 27:34 Selamawit Teferi, Israel
  8. 27:41 Carmela Cardama, Spain
  9. 27:52 Fionnuala McCormack, Ireland
  10. 27:58 Jennifer Nesbitt, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  11. 28:12 Jessica Gibbon, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  12. 28:24 Abbie Donnelly, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  13. 28:34 Dina Aleksandrova, Authorized Neutral Athlete
  14. 28:38 Yasemin Can, Turkey
  15. 28:39 Eilish Flanagan, Ireland
  16. 28:40 Anna Pataki, Hungary
  17. 28:40 Rebecca Lonedo, Italy
  18. 28:44 Carolina Robles, Spain
  19. 28:46 Anna Tropina, Authorized Neutral Athlete
  20. 28:46 Fatma Karasu, Turkey
  21. 28:47 Domenika Mayer, Germany
  22. 28:48 Mekdes Woldu, France
  23. 28:48 Aoibhe Richardson, Ireland
  24. 28:53 Ancuta Bobocel, Romania
  25. 28:54 Meline Rollin, France
  26. 28:54 Roisin Flanagan, Ireland
  27. 28:55 Vera Coutellier, Germany
  28. 28:57 Johanna Peiponen, Finland
  29. 28:57 Mathilde Senechal, France
  30. 28:59 Sara Christiansson, Sweden
Senior women start at the Sport Ireland grounds at Fingal-Dublin.
Konstanze Klosterhalfen and Alina Reh of Germany in the starting gates, would lead Germany to the team silver. Reh finished third, and Klosterhalfen was fifth.
Fionnuala McCormack of Ireland gets cheers from the home crowd as she runs strong to place ninth in her 17th Euro XC .
Irish twins Roisin Flanagan, and Eilish Flanagan run with Abbie Donnelly of Great Britain. The Flanagan sisters ran for Adams State in Colorado.
Karoline Grøvdal of Norway was content to hold back, and front the second pack, early in the race. Anna Emilie Moller of Denmark, Jessica Judd of Great Britain, and Rebecca Lonedo of Italy run with her.
Roxana Rotaru and Ancuta Bobocel of Romania lead a group of athletes that includes Fatma Karasu of Turkey and Eilish Flanagan of Ireland.
Fionnuala McCormack of Ireland hears cheers from the large crowd as she finishes ninth overall in her 17th Euro XC. One week prior, McCormack ran a 2:23:58 in Valencia, Spain.
Jessica Judd of Great Britain runs a strong race to place fourth overall and lead Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the team title.
Karolina Grøvdal of Norway came from behind to join leaders Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany and Meraf Bahta of Sweden.
Alina Reh of Germany saved the best for last and moved up in the final lap to earn the bronze.
Karoline Grøvdal of Norway takes the lead with Norwegian flags flying in the crowd. Meraf Bahta of Sweden would finish second.
Karoline Grøvdal of Norway savors the winning moment after a strong final lap allowed her to pull away for a 20-second victory in 26:34.
Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway raises the flag and showcases a smile after her strong win the Senior Women’s race.
Karoline Grøvdal of Norway and Alina Reh of Germany, were first and third. Enjoying proud moments with their national flags.
Congrats to Karoline Grøvdal from Meraf Bahta.
Jessica Judd of Great Britain runs a strong race to place fourth overall and lead Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the team title.
Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany gets tangled up with Meraf Bahta of Sweden, while leading the Senior Women’s race.
Team Germany placed second in the Senior Women race. Domenika Mayer, Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Alina Reh, Celine Kaiser, and Vera Coutellier
Team Ireland finished fourth in the Senior Women’s race. Aoife Cooke, Michelle Finn, Fionnuala McCormick, Aoibhe Richardson, Eilish Flanagan, and Roisin Flanagan. McCormack was 9th, E. Flanagan was 15th, Richardson was 23rd, R. Flanagan was 26th, Cooke was 38th, and Finn was 46th.
Team Italy: Gala Colli, Martina Merlo, Federica Zanne, Giulia Zanne, and Rebecca Lonedo


Categories: Race Coverage

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