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Athletics: Obiri and Jepkosgei set to renew cross country rivalry

Last updated 8 months ago | By Dennis Okeyo

Hellen Obiri wins the 10km Senior women race at the National Cross Country Championships held at the Eldoret Sports Club on Febraury 23, 2019. [STAFFORD ONDEGO, SPORTPICHA.CO.KE]

Thika barracks comes alive on Friday morning when Kenya Defence Forces stage their 39th cross-country championships.

The KDF action, which will be used to pick its team to the national cross-country championships next month, will see the soldiers struggling to fashion a strong team that will represent them at the national trials at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, on February 8.

World 5000m champion Hellen Obiri and world half marathon record holder Joyceline Jepkosgei will battle it out in what would be a reenactment of last year’s competition.

The Laikipia Air-based Obiri started her cross country season by retaining her Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza de Elgoibar title in Spain in December before finishing fourth at the Cross International de Italica in Spain last weekend in a race won by world 1,500m silver medalist Margaret Chelimo.

Jepkosgei, the reigning New York Marathon winner who will line up at the 2020 London Marathon on April 26, seeks to reclaim the KDF cross country crown.

Obiri and Jepkosgei will face stiff opposition from youngster Irene Kimais, who won Adana Half Marathon in Turkey two weeks ago.

Kimais finished second last year before winning the African Games trials. Other stars are Deborah Samum (Moi Airbase), Dorcas Kimeli (Moi Airbase), Caroline Chepkemoi of Kahawa and Mercy Wanjiru of Lanet.

In men’s 10km battle, Kandie Kibiwot of Embakasi who won last year in 28:55.7 will be up for another shot at the title against a strong opposition that include Lawi Kosgei of Moi Airbase and Motongwe-based Vedic Cheruiyot.

Other big shots to watch in Thika include Stephen Arita of Nairobi, Jairus Songok of Nanyuki and Vincent Mutai of Garissa.

Athletics Kenya will also use the meet to educate the runners on anti-doping violation rules.

Meanwhile uncertainty over the general election in Togo forced Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Council to push back this year’s Africa Cross Country Championships by a month.

Last week, CAA council made the announcement saying the host nation will not be ready for the championships, which was due on February 28 to March 1 in Lome, Togo.

CAA President Melboune Kalkaba in a statement said the new dates for the championships will be in April.

“The CAA council meeting as well as the Africa Cross Country Championships initially scheduled for February 28 and March 1, in Lome, have been postponed to the beginning of April 2020.

“This was at the request of the Togolese Government, which have the date of its presidential elections on February 22, 2020,” Kalkaba said.


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