Old rivalries to play out in national cross country championships

Former world marathon champion Ruth Chepng’etich on her way to victory in the women’s 10 kilometre race during the Kenya Prisons Service Cross Country Championships at the Kenya Prisons Staff Training College, Ruiru on December 17, 2022.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • With the country’s top cross country runners in Kigari, Embu training for the World Cross Country Championships, the nationals event presents a chance for little known athletes to shine
  • The national 10,000m bronze medallist Geoffrey Korir, experienced Peter Emase and William Mateloong will lead Kenya Prisons assault in men’s 10 kilometre race, coming up against a strong Police force of African Games 5,000m champion Robert Kiprop and Edwin Bett among others
  • With Obiri and Chepkemoi out, the onus is now on Commonwealth Games 10,000m bronze medallist Sheila Chepkirui and Esther Borura to deliver victory for KDF in women’s 10km

Institutional pride will be at stake during Athletics Kenya (AK) National Cross Country Championships that will run Saturday at Kenya Prisons Staff Training College (KPTC) in Ruiru, Kiambu. 

With the country’s top cross country runners in Kigari, Embu training for the World Cross Country Championships, the nationals event presents a chance for little known athletes to shine.

The World event is due for February 18 in Bathurst, Australia.

Stringent visa rules in Australia saw AK separate the National Cross Country Championships from the national trials for the World Cross Country Championships that were brought forward to December 10, last year.

Nevertheless, the nationals will witness old rivalries between Kenya Police, Kenya Prisons, Kenya Defence Forces, National Youth Service, Universities and various AK regions rekindled.

Defending champions Samuel Chebolei from North Rift and Kenya Defence Forces’ (KDF’s) Joyce Chepkemoi are among top crème athletes not lined up at KPTC.

World 10,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri and World Half Marathon silver medallist Kibiwott Kandie, who won the Kenya Defence Cross Country Championships a fortnight ago won’t be at KPTC event.

The 3,000m steeplechase world record holder, Beatrice Chepkoech and two-time World Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor, who won the Kenya Police Cross Country Championships two weeks ago will also skip the event.

Kandie, Chepkoech and Kamworor are in Team Kenya for the world event but Obiri, who is the reigning World Cross Country champion, has opted to prepare for road races.

The national 10,000m bronze medallist Geoffrey Korir, experienced Peter Emase and William Mateloong will lead Kenya Prisons assault in men’s 10 kilometre race, coming up against a strong Police force of African Games 5,000m champion Robert Kiprop and Edwin Bett among others.

KDF 10,000m bronze medallist Alfred Barkach will lead the military men's charge alongside the likes of Vincent Mutai while steeplechaser Leonard Bett and Wesley Ledama will fly South Rift’s flag.
With Obiri and Chepkemoi out, the onus is now on Commonwealth Games 10,000m bronze medallist Sheila Chepkirui and Esther Borura to deliver victory for KDF in women’s 10km.

However, the soldiers should expect stiff competition from Kenya Prisons champion, the 2019 World marathon champion, Ruth Chepng’etich and compatriot steeplechaser Fancy Cherotich.

Former national champion Stacy Ndiwa, 2013 World 5,000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono and former World 10,000m champion Linet Masai will be carrying Kenya Police hopes with the likes of Chepkoech and World 5,000m silver medallist Beatrice Chebet training with Team Kenya.

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