The core objective of the mountain running committee of Athletics Kenya is to promote and grow the sport in the country by formulating and implementing strategies for tapping talent and nurturing them. These strategies include organizing the AK Mountain Running Series, which includes weekend meets in Mount Kenya (Meru), Nandi Hills, Mount Longonot (Naivasha), Kilgoris, Bomet and Taita Hills.
Furthermore, the mandate of this committee is to prepare national teams for international assignments, including the World Mountain Running Championships. Over the years, Kenya has consistently established itself as a powerhouse in mountain running and more of its athletes produce great performances at international events.
Geoffrey Gikoni Ndung’u was the first to announce Kenya’s arrival on the mountain running scene when he defeated defending champion Jonathan Wyatt from New Zealand to clinch the Grossglockner Mountain Running Championship in Austria – a title he has won six more times subsequently.
He was also the first Kenyan to win the World Cup in 2019 as well as the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland.
On the ladies’ side, Lucy Murigi etched her name in mountain running folklore as the first Kenyan to win the World Mountain Running Championship in 2017 before leading Team Kenya to gold in the same competition, a year later.
Last year, another Kenyan, Joyce Muthoni Njeru, brought glory to the country when she won the World Mountain Running Championship for the ladies’ division, joining Ndung’u who emerged victorious on the men’s side.
As more athletes continue to emerge from the grassroots, there is increasing hope that mountain running can become a big sport in Kenya, to the same level as track and field as well as cross country and road races.
In the long term, it is hoped that the AK Mountain Running Series will become a prestigious events that attracts huge following in each of the legs and positions Kenya as a sporting destination as far as hosting international mountain running events is concerned.