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Get ready for a bumper weekend of road races

 Faith Kipyegon celebrates after wining women's 5000m gold medal at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. [Xinhua]

Mark your calendar on October 1 and hold your horses. There is a rich athletics menu that will spice up your week on Sunday.

This is another moment that the powerful valves of athletics will unite the nation. It’s a big sporting day.

This comes after Eliud Kipchoge notched up a fifth win at the Berlin Marathon last Sunday, with Sheila Chepkirui and Vincent Kipkemoi settling for runner-up spots.

On Sunday, the global stage will be watching Kenyan athletes as they compete at the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia.

The global showpiece will coincide with the Eldoret City Marathon –one of the continents highest paying 42km race. The Standard Group is the marathon's media sponsor.

Eldoret City Marathon will no doubt whet athletics enthusiasts’ appetite.

The Riga showpiece has attracted 347 athletes from 57 teams featuring Olympic and world champions, who will be chasing global titles in the road mile, 5km and half marathon. Kenya boasts the best athletes in this competition.

Three-time world 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon leads the pack. Fans expect Kipyegon to impress as she makes her debut in road running in the one Mile race and end the year as one of the greatest seasons any athlete has ever compiled.

Kipyegon, the two-time Olympic 1500m champion, has already set world records in 1500m, Mile and 5000m on the track this season.

She will battle Ethiopia’s world 1500m silver medallist Diribe Welteji, her compatriot Freweyni Hailu and Australia’s Jess Hull, both ranked in the top eight all-time in the mile on the track and world 3000m steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech.

Then there is world under 1500m champion Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot and Kyumbe Munguti who will lead the Kenyan men's onslaught against a star-studded field that has USA’s Sam Prakel and Ethiopia’s Teddese Lemi.

Beatrice Chebet, fresh from bagging bronze in 5000m at the World Championships in Budapest and the winning the world cross country title in Bathurst in February, longs to win a world title in a field that also features 5km mixed race world record-holder Ejgayehu Taye, Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Peruth Chemutai and Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka, who is entered to double with the Mile.

It will be a spectacular sight to behold as three of the four fastest men in history clash in the men’s 5km that features Ethiopia’s world record-holder Berihu Aregawi, compatriot Yomif Kejelcha and Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir.

In the half marathon, Peres Jepchirchir and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo are entered to defend their titles.

Among those challenging Jepchirchir, the Olympic marathon champion who set a women-only world record of 1:05:16 when winning gold at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, will be Kenya’s Irine Jepchumba Kimais, world cross country silver medallist Tsigie Gebreselama, Germany’s European 5000m champion Konstanze Klosterhalfen and USA’s Sara Hall.

The men’s entries include Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, Kenya’s world 10,000m silver medallist Daniel Simiu Ebenyo and European 5km record-holder Jimmy Gressier of France.

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