Future athletics champions will be revealed this Saturday when over 3,000 school-going kids from all over the country converged in Nandi County during the annual Ndalat Gaa kids cross-country competitions.
The present will mingle with the future during the one-day awe-inspiring event with a class of elite runners providing vital lessons to the posterity as they engage in battles of wits in the seniors races to lay grounds for the coming cross country running season.
All Africa Games 10,000metres champion Alice Aprot, Sheila Chepng’etich and Pauline Korikwoang, the winner of Ndakaini half marathon, will return to the rural set up to launch their cross-country bids as they did last year.
Among the men elite, John Chepkwony, Franclin Ngelel and Cyprian Kotut will return to the open course at Ndalat Gaa Girls High School to re-enact last year’s rivalry when they compete in the revised 10kilometres senior men’s category.
But the main attention would be in the children who will be competing in accordance to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Kids Athletics Programe started 8 years ago.
“Although the focus of the event is majorly the Kids from 5-7, 8-12 and 13-15 years, a big number of elites athletes including continental and global medalists have confirmed their participation as we start the cross-country competition programe,” said Central Rift Athletics Kenya branch chairman Abraham Mutai.
Being the spring of Kenya’s athletics champions, current and former athletics greats would complement the profile of the event that has been pooling unusual huge number of participants for the last six years.
“The attendance of present and former champions is very crucial to the children. It is the presence of senior athletes like Janeth Jepkosgei, Eliud Kipchoge, Martin Lel, David Rudisha, Ezekiel Kemboi and others that has been inspiring our future champions,” added Amos Rono who has been in the Kids Programe from Primary Schools.
Since inception in 2009, the event has been seeing children aged between 5 and 7 years compete in 500metres on the grass cross-country circuit, those between 8 and 12 years running 2km and those between 13 and 15 years brackets covering 4kilometres.
Apart from the kids and the Elite runners, the event also organizes special categories for men and women aged between 30-45 years (women) and 40-50 years (men) who do the fun run, covering 4Km with winners taking home heifers and sheep usually donated by Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat.
In the past, a class of selected celebrated runners including World cross-country champion Joseph Ebuya (2009), Vivian Cheruiyot, Priscah Jeptoo, Joyce Jepkurui and Gladys Chemweno compete at the race before going for their global accolades.
This year, the event received a major boost from sponsors who include Safaricom, Amaco Insurance Company, Kenya Seeds and Athletics Kenya among others.
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