A mouth-watering battle await as the 26th Discovery Kenya cross-country meeting gets underway at Eldoret Sports Club on Sunday.
World champions Vivian Cheruiyot, Asbel Kiprop and Geoffrey Kamworor will lead a galaxy of stars in the lush green and well-manicured cross country course circuit.
The champions need to be at their best as they square it out with a crowded field of elites and upstarts.
The race, which is among the biggest cross-country meetings in the athletics-rich North Rift region, stands out as a yard stick to test ground as campaigns for places in Kenya’s team to the 42nd IAAF World Cross Counry Championships that runs in Kampala, Uganda, on March 26, intensify.
David Leting, one of the organisers and the course marker, said race will no doubt be a tough contest between established athletes as it has kept producing new talents since its inception in 1991.
- READ MORE
- Kenya, Ethiopia shift their battle field to Poland showdown
- Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei retains her London Marathon title
- Young, daring face off with experienced stars in London Marathon
- Rescheduled major Marathon is set for October 4: Brigid ready to pop the champagne in London
- Meet Kenya's eight ageless athletics stars
- German FA to review state of national team on December 4
“I am sure competition will be stiffer given that most of the athletes will begin the season here. We expect many top athletes, with some of them coming to gauge their fitness in preparation for April’s London, Boston and Rotterdam marathons. It’s also helpful in the preparations for World Championships,” said Leting.
It will be a perfect launching pad for Cheruiyot, who makes her debut in 42km at the London Marathon.
American sportswear apparel Nike, Kenya Commercial Bank, Italian based Rosa and Associati are the main sponsors alongside Italian radio station De Jay.
Vivian and Kamworor, who have won both junior and senior titles at the IAAF world cross country championships, would be out to extend their winning streaks.
But Asbel want to set his world 1,500m record on course as he target’s to stand at par with Morocco’s world 1,500m record holder Hicham El Gorouj, who has four wins in 1,500m at the world championships.
Kamworor, the reigning world cross country champion, would test the ground ahead of his title defence bid at the World Cross Country gala in Kampala.
World cross country silver medalist Bedan Karoki, Silas Kiplagat, the 2011 world 1,500m silver medalist and former world half marathon champion Wilson Kiprop are also expected.
The event will feature the traditional four categories of cross country running –6km and 8km (women) and 8km and 1okm (men) –alongside five other kids races meant to scout talent.