Tough XC battle expected as regions pick teams for nationals

An action packed Saturday beckons as regions retreat to pick their teams for the national cross country championships slated for February 23 at the Eldoret Sports Club.

South Rift counties; Bomet, Narok, Kajiado, Nakuru, Laikipia and Kericho will converge at the Kericho Teachers Training College where athletes will battle it out for the available tickets for the nationals.

Hosts Kericho County will be counting on home advantage to bag more tickets with the former Olympic bronze medalist Edwin Soi leading a formidable line up in the men’s senior category that also includes 2013 World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir.

The 2013 Africa Youth 1500m silver medalist Eva Cherono and Sandrafelis Chebet will lead the hosts with the 2016 Africa Junior Cross Country champion Miriam Cherop form Bomet and Beatrice Mutai from Nakuru County also expected to illuminate the 10km senior women contest.

According to Athletics Kenya (AK) Kericho County chairman Japhet Kemei all is set for the event with more than 200 participants expected in the various categories including 10km senior men and women, 8km junior men, 6km junior women as well as the mixed relays race.

“We are happy as Kericho County to be hosting this year’s competition. We are expecting more than 200 athletes from the six counties and so far everything is ready for the event,” said Kemei.

Meanwhile, Uasin Gishu county athletes led by Peter Kipkemei and Nancy Jepkemoi will clash with their counterparts from Nandi and Baringo in Central Rift championships that will go down at Metipso Primary School in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County.

Hosts will bank on the duo of Richard Kimunyan and Gilbert Kimunyan in the senior race while the world under-18 2,000m silver medalist Cleophas Kandie Meyan will highlight the 8km junior men’s race.

Meanwhile, Samburu County will be hosting North Rift championships for the first time at Kenyatta stadium in Maralal town.

Regions’ Public Relations Officer  Boniface Tiren said they have liaised  with office of the county commissioner and  the local leaders to ensure that there would be security for visitors who will turn up for the event.

“Through the office of the governor, County Commissioner and the police we have been assured of enough security, this place is safe and everything is going on as we had planned,” said Tiren who doubles up as the secretary general of AK  Elgeyo Marakwet county.

Participants from other four counties forming North Rift- West Pokot, Elgeyo Markwet, Turkana and Trans Nzoia have started arriving in Maralal for the Saturday’s showdown.

“Some of the teams from the four counties have already arrived while others are still on their way,” added Tiren.

The selected athletes will battle out in the national championships cum trials for the World Cross to be held in Aarhus, Denmark in March 30.

-Report by Gilbert Kiprotich and Josphister J Lengarpatei


National Cross Country Championship

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