Forero Wins U20 Women’s Race and Leads Spain to Title

By Clay Shaw
Photography by Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell

Turin, Italy, Piemonte-La Mandria Park, December 11, 2022, SPAR European Cross-Country Championships—Maria Forero of Spain won the U20 women’s title in 13:04 on the 3.812 KM course. Much to her delight, the Spanish team won gold as well. Iraia Mendia was ninth and Antia Castro was eleventh to give Spain the win in a close battle with Turkey. Germany earned the bronze title.

Ingeborg Ostgard of Norway was second overall in 13:07. Ilona Mononen of Finland was third, one second back.  Innes Fitzgerald of Great Britain was fourth in 13:15. Jane Buckley of Ireland was fifth in 13:22.

Flash Interviews Courtesy of the Event

Maria Forero, Spain, Gold 13:04
“To be honest, I feel incredible. I can’t really find the words to explain how I am feeling right now. It’s a gold medal – an individual medal at European level, and on top of that it is gold. I didn’t really expect to win with such a margin over the other girls, let alone take lead at such early stage. I felt really strong, but not in my dreams did it occur to me I could have won in the way that I did. I came out as strong as I could, and realised I had some advantage over the other athletes. I went for it with no fear because of that. Over the last year, I changed my training base, but kept training hard as usual. I decided to focus on some of the aspects that I had to improve, and I feel I improved my overall lifestyle, which, in turn, has allowed me to become a stronger competitor. When I was told that we came first as a team, I felt twice as happy – especially for the girls. We knew we had a stong team but it would be a tough ask, so it was a very pleasant surprised to take the team win, too.”

Ingeborg Ostgard, Norway, Silver 13:07
“It was a tough competition so I am really happy with the silver today. I tried to not run too fast in the first two laps so that I could run faster in the last hill. Our team is very strong and we are helping each other. I think we have a good team spirits. It is fun to travel with the other guys. My plan now is: holiday at first and then going to the training camp. Maybe also some indoor competitions in winter. I am planning to run 1500m.”

Ilona Mononen, Finland, Bronze 13:08
“Coming to the race, I was ready to just follow the group and not to get too far. We worked together and I am really happy with the bronze medal. It is true that the course was quite tough. But actually I think it was really great for me because we have been doing long hills trainings during the fall and then the downhills, I had to watch myself to not get injured. So the course was OK. That is definitely true, that the cold weather suits me better. It is not the best conditions but considering the girls from Spain and other warm countries, this worked better for me than for them, probably. I do not have any family members with me here. They do not travel. But I am sure they were all watching at home and I have my team mates and coaches and they are great.”

Editor’s Note: In international cross country, U20 means “under 20 years old,” currently born no earlier than January 1, 2003. U23 means “under 23 years old,” or born no earlier than January 1, 2000. Senior currently refers to athletes athletes born 1999 or older. Athletes may choose to move up to the senior division even though eligible for the younger categories. The categories are determined by birth year as opposed to birthdates.

Top Finishers

  1. 13:04 Maria Forero, Spain
  2. 13:07 Ingeborg Ostgard, Norway
  3. 13:08 Ilona Mononen, Finland
  4. 13:15 Innes Fitzgerald, Great Britain
  5. 13:22 Jane Buckley, Ireland
  6. 13:32 Kira Weis, Germany
  7. 13:37 Ayca Fidanoglu, Turkey
  8. 13:38 Edibe Yagiz, Turkey
  9. 13:38 Iraia Mendia, Spain
  10. 13:43 Pelinsu Sahin, Turkey
  11. 13:44 Antia Castro, Spain
  12. 13:46 Jade LeCorre, France
  13. 13:46 Lisa Merkel, Germany
  14. 13:48 Sofia Benfares, Germany
  15. 13:48 Maren Halle Haugen, Norway
  16. 13:49 Marie-Louise Jorgensen, Denmark
  17. 13:50 Katarzyna Napiorkowska, Poland
  18. 13:50 Rebecca Flaherty, Great Britain
  19. 13:51 Margot Dajoux, France
  20. 13:51 Saima Muric, Serbia
  21. 13:51 Ulyana Rachynska, Ukraine
Maria Forero of Spain would win the U20 women’s race. She is running in the lead with Innes Fitzgerald of Great Britain who placed fourth. Neither one of us got to the finish of this race, which was a short 3.812 km event won by Forero in 13:04.
Kira Weis of Germany placed sixth. Ayca Fidanoglu, and Pelinsu Sahin of Turkey led Turkey to the team silver. Fidanoglu was seventh, and Sahin was tenth. Germany, led by Weis, earned team bronze.
Maren Halle Haugen of Norway and Saima Muric of Serbia compete in the U20 race. Haugen was 15th, Muric was 20th.
Katarzyna Napiorkowska of Poland leads a large group of athletes on her way to 17th place. Johanna Pulte of Germany, Marie Bilo of Belgium, Sila Ata of Turkey, and Greta Varga of Hungary give chase.
Julie Voet of Belgium was 22nd. Sofia Benfares of Germany was 14th and Germany’s third scorer on way to the team bronze.
Megan Harris of Great Britain was 23rd in the U20 race.
Elsa Sundqvist of Sweden and Sofia Sedenius of Italy race in the U20 race with the Alps in the background.
Tetiana Kohut of Ukraine was 28th in the U20 race.
Thais Paris of France was 54th in the U20 race.
U20 Women medalists. Ingeborg Ostgard of Norway was second, Maria Forero of Spain was first, and Ilona Mononen of Finland was third.

Categories: Race Coverage

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