Togom to lead 1,000 athletes in Chepkoilel cross country meet
By JOSEPH NGURE
Africa cross country champion Nicholas Togom, William Sitonim and former Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Lucy Kabuu will today (Saturday) seek to extend their top performance at the second edition of the KCB Athletics Kenya cross country meeting at Chepkoilel campus in Eldoret.
Togom, who is the continental champion in the junior men 8km race, has since graduated to the senior ranks and easily won in Tala a week today. The younger brother to Mathew Kisorio, however will have his first chance to test the calibre of opposition he expects in the campaign with top Rift Valley athletes expected to take part in the event.
Organisers have confirmed that over 1,000 athletes are expected in the competition, which will have four race categories – junior women 6km, junior men 8km, senior women 8km and senior men 12km. With general preparations for major championships next year gaining shape, Athletics Kenya will be strict with age among the juniors to see those who feature in this category are those born in 1993 and upward.
AK Secretary General David Okeyo said the junior races should be limited to only younger athletes born after 1992. Elderly runners must take part in the senior categories since they cannot be selected to represent the country as juniors.
"We are asking the organisers of all the weekend meeting to adhere to this rule. Let the right athletes compete in the right categories for us to see who to pick during the national trials," said Okeyo.
Contrary to the tradition when the North Rift affiliate played host to the last meeting of the seven-tie series, Chepkoilel University College will chocking with humanity when 1,000 plus runners will be burning their lungs out, fighting for recognition.
Fatwell Kimaiyo, the event coordinator, told Feverpitch that a new course has been designed within the college in order to give the event the required standard.
"This is not going to be an ordinary event like it has been before. It is a nation meet where athletes would be chasing the Sh1.2 million jackpot. We are seeing the number exceeding 1,000," said Kimaiyo. The series began last Saturday in Tala, Kangundo, where former Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Lucy Kabuu and African champion John Mwangangi were the star attraction. However, Togom trounced Mwangangi in the 12km race.
The event, comes at a time when the elite athletes are returning back into competition after a long recess. Majority are keen to shake off the rust and present themselves as ideal for selection to join the Kenya team for the Africa cross Country Championships, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa on March 18.
For those who miss out on the trip to Cape Town, there is a bigger goal of making it to the London Olympics next year in August.
"Many of those who are interested in representing Kenya in the African cross-country next year have promised to participate. We love seeing them run at home in order to encourage the young ones," said Olympian Tegla Sang.
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