2014 Swiss Cross Championships (Cross SM)

Summary: The Swiss Cross Champions for 2014 are Fabienne Schlumpf and Rolf Rüfenacht.

For the first time in 43 years, the Swiss Cross Championships were held in Zürich at the Allmend Brunau park. The weather was dry and a pleasant 8°C and the 1km circular course, perfectly designed from the spectators point of view, was varied and technically challenging for the runners of all ages who took part in the 40 different categories.

The senior events which took place later in the afternoon attracted over 200 entrants, including some tough competition for last year’s champions Livia Burri (GC Bern) and Adriano Engelhardt (U.S. Ascona) as well as some very capable non-Swiss runners.

A late entry by Olympic Triathlon Champion Nicola Spirig created a lot of media interest in the week leading up to the event and undoubtedly swelled the numbers of spectators on the day.  Prior to the race, Spirig announced to the press that she has decided to focus on longer distance running events, starting with the marathon in Zürich in April (report continues after image gallery).

Click on any image to see the slide show.

Favorites in the short cross races were defending champions Mario Bächtiger (STV Eschenbach ) and Joëlle Flück (LC Regensdorf). In the event, Bächtiger won easily, ahead of Marco Kern and Julien Lyon, whilst Flück narrowly missed out to Astrid Leutert, with Florence Peguiron taking third place.

In a well contested women’s long cross race, Fabienne Schlumpf, holder of the Swiss steeple chase record, beat the people’s favourite Nicola Spirig into second place and feisty Brigitta Mathys put on a great show to come in third. In a hard fought battle, Schlumpf and Spirig were neck and neck for most of the race until Schlumpf pressed ahead in the final laps to take the victory.

Meanwhile, Rolf Rüfenacht dominated the men’s long cross event, ahead of talented Brit Neil Burton and Swiss runners Adrian Engelhardt and Fabian Downs. Unfortunately, Adrian Lehmann, one of the favourites before the race, did not take part.

All in all, an excellent event.  The full results can be found here.