World champions Helen Obiri (5,000m) and Faith Chepngetich (1,500m) are set for an epic duel in Sotik, South Rift, Saturday, when Athletics Kenya’s (AK) Second Cross Country meeting is staged.
Chepngetich is a multiple medalist in continental and global cross-country circles while Obiri’s only career medals have been raked in the tracks. The duo are however, not new to each other having dueled in the mile before Obiri stepped up the distance to 5,000m last year.
They will no doubt be the star attractions in a 10km Senior Women race that also has Caroline Chepkoech and Mercy Chetnole. The Cross Country season will culminate in African Championships next year in Algeria where the duo focused on starring.
“I made my name through the cross-country and I must keep running it to stay fit for other track engagements. It is very challenging especially since the distance was increased but I’m up to the challenge. It is important to compete in the local circuit because of its championship-style condition.
Everyone is fighting to win. By the time that circuit concludes, fitness is up there,” 23-year-old Chepngetich who has won eight gold medals in athletics said Obiri who only switched to 5,000m in 2016 is planning to further her running distance to 10,000m. The 27-year-old Olympic silver medalist will attain beneficial practice by delving into the 10km cross country running and has since harnessed her energies into the distance.
“I realised that I have endurance so I’ll add 10,000m into my list of races. It’s a decision that was taken carefully and I’m going all-out for it. The national circuit is my starting point so that by the time we head for Commonwealth Games I shall be used to going the distance,” the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) athlete said Former national senior men champion Japhet Korir of Kenya Police Service and industrious but injury prone Timothy Cheruiyot have confirmed participation in the 10km senior men’s race.
Last year’s gold medalist in Africa Junior Cross Country race Miriam Cherop will kick-start her title defence by taking on her peers in the 6km race in Sotik with her main challenger being Immaculate Chepkirui.
Chepkirui won silver in 3,000m U18 World Championships staged in Nairobi this year. The duo are tipped to go all the way to Algeria next year based on their current form. Leonard Bett will lead his peers in the Junior Men category having gold from the U18 World Championships 2000m steeplechase last July.