Status: 10.12.2023, 19:45 PM
By: Paul Hopp
Courageous performance in the mud: Nick Jäger (center) completed his first European Cross Country Championships in the men's race. The 24-year-old Penzberger ran the 9000 meters in 31:30 minutes on Sunday in Brussels' Laken-Park. © Imago Images / Axel Kohring
It was a debut for Nick Jäger: For the first time, the Penzberg native competed in a men's European Cross Country Championships. There he convinced as the second best German.
Brussels – The cap, which depicted a Gallic rooster dipped in tricolor colors, was a fashionable insolence. But Yann Schrub didn't care – he fearlessly put on the ugly cloth thing in the finish area.
Anyone who has just won the European Champion title in cross-country running, the Frenchman probably thought, can look bad. In the race before, on the extremely muddy circuit in Brussels' Laken Park within sight of the Atomium, Schrub had cut a brilliant figure.
Nick Jäger second-best German in men's race
With an increase in speed on the penultimate lap, the Frenchman (third at the 2022 European Championships in Munich over 10,000 meters) had pulled away from his competitors at the front. He won with a time of 30:17 minutes. In the finish, Schrub still had time to grab a flag handed to him by the audience.
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At the highlight of the cross-country season, a Penzberg rider had also delivered a remarkable performance – even if it remained largely unobserved by the cameras. Nick Jäger finished 36th out of 90 starters in his first European Championship race in the men's race.
Jäger ran the 9000 meters, which had to be completed in six laps, in 31:30 minutes. The gap to winner Schrub was 1:13 minutes. The Penzberg native was the second-best German in the field peppered with numerous top runners. Of the DLV team, only Davor Aaron Bienenfeld (SSC Hanau-Rodenbach) ran faster, finishing 30th in 48:14 minutes.
Together with the result of Maximilian Thorwirth (31:31/39th place) from SFD 75 Düsseldorf Süd, seventh place jumped out in the team standings. The DLV men's squad was completed by Filmon Teklebrhan-Berhe (33:40/69th place) from LAC Freiburg. The German cross-country champion Markus Görger (LG Region Karlsruhe) had to cancel his participation in the European Championships at short notice due to illness.
Three-way battle for the silver medal in the men's race
In the race, Jäger was only six seconds behind the leader after the first lap. As a result, he always fluctuated in the range of places 45 to 35. After the third lap, i.e. at the halfway point, Jäger was 27 seconds behind the leader. At the front, she had formed a group of three around the eventual winner Schrub. In the fourth and fifth laps, Jäger lost the most time to the athletes running at the front. Behind Schrub, a three-way battle for silver broke out at the end. Second place went to Norway's Magnus Tuv Myhre (30:20), bronze went to Belgium's Robin Hendrix (30:22), who distanced himself from Britain's Hugo Milner (30:27), who had been running at the front for a long time.
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Nick Jäger has already experienced several international cross-country title fights in the Germany jersey as a junior. The Penzberg native made his debut in 2017 at the European Championships in Samorin (Slovakia), where he finished 20st in the U51 category.
A year later, he shone in Tilburg (Netherlands) as ninth in the singles; with the DLV team he won the bronze medal in the U20 class. Jäger also won team bronze in March 2022 at the World Student Cross Country Championships in Aveiro (Portugal). In the singles, he had finished 13th at the time.