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All set for trials: 24 foreign athletes to parade in event that will feature 391 runners

By JONATHAN KOMEN | February 12th 2015
12 kilometer men category in action during this year's Mau - Egerton cross country at Egerton University grounds on February 7, 2015.. PHOTO: KIPSANG JOSEPH

Uhuru Gardens is ready to host the 21st IAAF Permit/KCB National Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

The contest, which will be used to pick Kenya’s squad to the 41st IAAF World Cross Country Championships to Guiyang, China, has attracted 24 foreign athletes from 11 countries, including Mauritius, Gambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Ghana.

Athletics Kenya (AK) President, Isaiah Kiplagat, said this year’s event had attracted the highest number of foreign entries.

“We met the five-country threshold that is in line with the IAAF rule that qualifies the event to IAAF ranking. For the first time, we will have more than five countries taking part. This will be one of our best ever organised events,” Kiplagat said when he unveiled athletes’ running numbers at Riadha House yesterday.

Kiplagat said there would be an anti-doping seminar for athletes at Milele Hotel in South C tomorrow.

“We will have a captive audience that includes coaches and technical officials and pass the information on areas they need to understand. They will also be taught how the Anti-Doping Association of Kenya (Adak) works,” said Kiplagat.

IAAF Director of Competitions, Paul Hardy, will preside over the championships after chairing the managers’ meeting at Hotel Inter-Continental tomorrow.

“He will also inspect Nyayo National Stadium in preparation for the 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships," said Kiplagat.

“This time, every team will have a tent and a team attache to help identify where each team will be stationed. All athletes, media and officials will be accredited for security. We will erect three screens to relay live images and monitor the athletes,” he said.

Kenya Police and Kenya Defence Forces will present two teams each (A and B) to allow more elite athletes’ participation.

“Running numbers will be issued at the hotels,” added Kiplagat.

Ibrahim Hussein, the event’s technical director, said the course had been mapped for the 391 athletes in contention.

“The course will be the usual 2km loop, but we will have a 100-metre stretch finish. Since it is dry, we have put three obstacles to make it challenging,” said Hussein, the first African to win the New York City Marathon in 1987.

In a statement, KCB Director of Marketing and Communications Angela Mwirigi said the bank had released Sh8 million to organise the event.

“We have invested Sh60 million since 2007, when we started sponsoring the event. We have had more than 3,000 athletes compete in the events,” said Mwirigi.

The event has attracted calls for a boycott by some professional athletes body. But these were quashed by the AK president and a number of officials across the country.

Benjamin Limo, who is an IAAF Athletes’ Representative, and Noah Ngeny, a former world and 2000 Olympics 1,500m champion, voiced concern about the boycott calls, saying that would be detrimental to athletes’ careers.

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