Kenyan runners set for national cross country championship

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NAIROBI, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s world-class runners are set to compete for the domestic honors at the National Cross Country Championship on Saturday in Nairobi.

The event will culminate in the selection of Kenya’s team for the Africa Cross Country Championships scheduled for March 7 in Lome, Togo.

With no major races abroad in the near future, Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei predicted stiff competition in all the seven categories at the grassy and sloping course including 10km senior men and women, 8km U-20 boys, 6km U-20 girls, 6km U-18 boys, 5km U-18 girls and mixed relay.

“I attended a few meetings including the Discovery Kenya Cross Country and what I saw was a very commendable performance from our athletes. You know most of the athletes did not compete last year due to COVID-19 and that is why we have seen most of them compete in cross country meets,” Tuwei told Xinhua on Thursday.

“At the moment we don’t have any major races and I therefore expect all athletes who qualified for the nationals will compete for their respective teams,” he added.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), who took last year’s men title through the reigning World Half Marathon record-holder Kibiwott Kandie who hopes to defend his title at the Saturday’s showpiece, have lined up a strong squad consisting of Kibiwott himself, Collins Koros and Eric Kiptanui among others.

The World Cross Country champion Hellen Obiri will spearhead KDF’s women’s team alongside Joyce Chepkemoi, Sheila Chepkirui among others.

National Police have sent a strong team with the 2015 and 2017 world cross-country champion and world half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor as its figure head in the senior men’s race.

Kamworor will have the accompaniment of Josephat Kiprotich, Casios Masinde, Joseph Kiptum, Kipsang Temoi and Kenneth Cheserek as his Police teammates.

Kericho-based Sheila Chelangat, who shot to the limelight last year when she won both police cross country and national titles and successfully defended her Police title last month, will carry the Police women’s flag alongside 2015 world steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng, Edith Chelimo, 2019 world 5,000m silver medalist Margret Chelimo, Faith Kimutai and Caroline Nyaga.

Other runners who will be gunning for the national title include 2019 national champion Amos Kirui, Michael Kibet, Japan-based Bedan Karoki who last won the national title in 2014, and Nicholas Kimeli. Enditem

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