A riveting battle awaits when some of the world’s best cross country athletes face-off in men’s 10km race at the Kenya National Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi.
Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki, who staged a 1-2 performance at the 2015 World Cross Country in China renew their rivalry in a race that has attracted both experienced and upcoming athletes from the region.
The athletes met at last year’s National Cross Country Championships where Karoki retained the title with Kamworor finishing second to set the stage for the World Cross in Guiyang. Kamworor would claim sweet revenge, winning gold as Karoki settled for silver.
They returned to China for the Beijing World Championships last year where Kamworor took for silver as Karoki wound fourth in the 10,000m race.
Kamworor retained Kenya Police Service Cross title a month ago at Ngong Racecourse, while Japan-based Karoki was given a wild card in Central region team, having missed their competition.
Kamworor and Karoki have expressed their desire to represent Kenya at the World Half Marathon championships planned for March 26 in Cardiff, Wales. Kamworor is the defending champion.
The duo met at the 25th edition of the Discovery Cross Country race where Karoki carried the day as Kamworor failed to finish the race.
Athletics Kenya will used the IAAF Permit race to select the team for the Africa Cross Country Championships slated for March 12 this year in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
“This is the king of challenge I always aspire and it makes me feel great meeting some of the finest field in the world,” said Kamworor, who promised a front-running assault. “I shall target victory from the front and I will be happy to meet my great Karoki and the rest against.”
Kamworor said he is looking forward to a more eventful 2016 after a good 2015 season.“It will be a fascinating battle again and I hope to edge out my good friend Kamworor again,” said Karoki. “I hope we shall again form the explosive partnership at the World Half Marathon if selected.”
Kamworor leads a strong Kenya Police team that has the 2013 World Junior silver medallist Leonard Barsaton, who is also the African Games 10,000m silver medallist.
Japan-based Barsaton, who is the reigning Africa Cross Country champion, has was given a wild card after Augustine Choge and Asbel Kiprop, who finished second and third in Police Cross requested to been left out.
Also in Police team are the 2013 National champion Philemon Rono, the 2012 Africa Cross champion Clement Lagat, Peter Kirui and Joseph Kitun. Karoki’s Central team has little-known John Maina, Bernard Waweru, George Waiyaki, Paul Mutero and Paul Maina.
They are up against equally good Kenya Prisons, Kenya Defence Forces and regional teams what with Ethiopia and Eritrea sending quality sides too. The two Kenya’s world arch-rivals are part of six regional nations that will have representatives at the race.
Yigerem Demelash, the 2012 World Junior 10,000metres champion, and Birhan Mihretu from Ethiopia will spice up the men’s 10km race. Demelash ran 1:09:38 at the Hague Half Marathon last year and finished fifth at the 2012 Great Ethiopian 10km run.
Vincent Rono, who won Prisons Cross, the 2014/2015 AK Cross Country Series champion Cornelius Kangongo, who is the Africa Cross silver medalllst, and 2014 Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Muya head Prisons pack.
The 2011 Africa Cross Country champion John Mwangangi, who is also the 2012 World Half Marathon bronze medallist and Philip Langat lead Southern Region attack.
KDF team has their 10,000m and 10,000m champion Emmanuel Kipsang, who also won the Force’s Cross, Machakos leg of the AK Cross Country winner Stephen Arita and Geoffrey Kirui.
Seasoned Hosea Macharinyang, who has represented Kenya in three World Cross leads North Rift team while experienced runners Robert Mang’ata and Mopses Kororia form Western region team.
Africa Cross junior silver medallist Andrew Lorot and Africa Youth 2,000m steeplechase silver medallist Edwin Kibet from Nairobi are the men to watch out in men’s junior 8km race.
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