World cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor will take on defending champion Bedan Karoki at the Athletics Kenya Cross Country, an IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting, in Nairobi on Saturday (13).
The heavy rain that has pounded the Kenyan capital in the past few days is forecast to continue through the weekend, meaning the runners will have a wet and muddy course to look forward to, adding an edge to the competition.
Following the event, Athletics Kenya will select the team that will compete at the African Cross Country Championships in Yaounde, Cameroon on March 12.
Catch Kamworor if you can
With a defence of his world half-marathon crown on the horizon, Kamworor has firmly set his sights on winning his first national senior cross-country title. Last month he won the Kenyan Police Championships in Nairobi, finishing 38 seconds in front of the in-form Augustine Choge.
Defending champion Bedan Karoki will be Kamworor’s main challenger over 10km, just as he was at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Guiyang 2015. Karoki has also notched up a recent convincing win on home soil, winning the Discovery Kenya Cross Country meeting in Eldoret by 23 seconds and becoming the first athlete from outside the Rift Valley to take the title.
World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, reigning African cross-country champion Leonard Barsoton and 2011 world 10,000m finalist Peter Kirui are among those who could line up alongside Kamworor in the revered Police team.
Other rank contenders include Clement Lagat, the 2010 world junior cross-country silver medallist who was second to Karoki in Eldoret, and 2007 world youth 1500m champion Fredrick Musyoki, who is keen to clinch a ticket to Yaounde.
Kipyegon a cut above
Faith Kipyegon, who won the senior women’s race last year before injury forced her out of the World Cross, is the stand-out name on the provisional entry list.
Two-time world junior cross-country champion has been in great form this winter, winning by 20 seconds in Seville and by 48 seconds in San Vittore Olona last month.
But she will face a strong challenge from a Police team that includes 2009 world 10,000m champion Linet Masai, world steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng, 2013 world 5000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono, All-Africa Games 5000m champion Margaret Chelimo and Commonwealth 5000m silver medallist Janet Kisa.
The junior races will be mainly showdowns between Kenya’s world youth champions.
The women’s 6km event will witness another clash between world youth steeplechase champion Celliphine Chesteek Chespol against big rival and African youth steeplechase champion Sandra Felis Chebet with both having been in sizzling form at the local AK National Cross Country Series.
World youth 3000m silver medallist Emily Chebet, who followed home Sandra Chebet at the Tuskys Wareng meeting, and world youth 3000m bronze medallist Sheila Chelangat are among the other key challengers.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Royal Media Services) for the IAAF