It will not be where the trophy will go or how it will be won but who wins individual titles that forms the main puzzle as athletics fans await the national cross country championships at Uhuru Gardens this Saturday.
The return of 2013 World Champion Japhet Korir and two-times junior champion Viola Kibiwott guarantee a tantalizing firework as the 12 regional branches and the 4 affiliates scramble for coveted trophies during the contest sponsored by Lotto Foundation and that will also serve as trial for the World championships.
Indoor specialist Augustine Choge of Kenya National Police Service, Emmanuel Kipsang from the Kenya Defense Forces and on-form Katuu Muia of Kenya Prisons Service are the flag bearers for the institutional affiliates after claiming bragging rights during their national championships.
Nevertheless, stiff opposing will likely tilt the equation after the regional branches brought on board experienced and formidable forces as witnessed during their selections.
The bouncing back of Japhet Korir of the South Rift to the winning pedals and the emerging of ambitious James Gitahi and John Maina who will represent Nairobi and Central regions complicates the winning matrix in one of the most competitive categories of the championships.
Gitahi, buoyed by his Africa victory last year, is itching to move a step better while Kipsang and Choge will want to put their vast experience to test in the wait-and-see brain game promising a mouth-wetting clash on the independent grounds course.
In women, the absence of household names in Vivian Cheruiyot and Indoor Champion Helen Obiri will not adulterate the class as it will provide a leveled playing ground for upcoming and blooming stars.
But the presence of Africa Cross country and 10,000metres queen Alice Aprot, Olympic 1,500metres and cross-country toast Faith Chepn’etich, budding Lilian Kasait and knowledgeable Viola Kibiwott will decorate the concert in the senior women cast.
Chepng’etich and Kibiwott, representing South Rift and Central Rift respectively, will be replaying their junior scripts where they won two gold medals each back-to-back and renew their podium quest in this year’s World Championships.
The championships will see the first 6 athletes across the finish line selected to the national team that will prepare to represent the country during the IAAF World Cross Country Championships that will be held in Kampala, Uganda, on March 26 this year.
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