The countdown starts in earnest to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Guiyang 2015 as Monday (29) marks just less than 90 days to go until China stages the world’s premier cross-country competition for the first time.
It will be only the third time that the championships have been staged in Asia, following on from 2005 in Fukuoka (JPN) and 2009 in Amman (JOR), since they were inaugurated back in 1972.
The Kenyan pair of Japhet Korir and Emily Chebet, who were the winners of the senior races in 2013 at the last edition of the championships, when they were held in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz, have both said in recent weeks that they intend to defend their titles and that the championships are their main target in the coming months.
Almost inevitably, We (Kenya) the distance-running powerhouses are expected to dominate proceedings once again in Guiyang.
Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese and the Netherlands’ Lornah Kiplagat, both in 2007, were the last individual senior winners from anywhere other than the two East African countries while Tanzania’s Andrew Sambu and Finland’s Annemari Sandell, who triumphed in 1991 and 1995 respectively, were the last junior winners to fracture the duopoly.
It is also more than a decade since any team other than Kenya and Ethiopia won one of the team contests but the US senior men’s team won the silver medals last year in Bydgoszcz and showed that there are still plenty of places on the podium available for inspired and talented challengers to the leading contenders from the Rift Valley.
Once again, as it has been since 2007, there will be four races over what has now become the established distances at the championships: junior women – 6km, junior men – 8km, senior women – 8km, senior men – 12km. Team contests will be on the basis of ‘up to six to run, four to score’.
Prize money will be given to the first six individuals and teams in the senior races, with US$30,000 going to the first man and woman home and US$20,000 to be spread among the winning teams
Athletics Kenya Media and Communications.