Kenyan Media Gives No Coverage to Major Cross Country Event, by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder

Suppose you had thirty of the best Kenyan distance runners running a cross country race in Kenya, and no Kenyan media paid attention to it? In fact, the 7th Kenya Weekend XC , in Kericho, Kenya, will be read more about in the US and Europe than in Kenya. Our correspondent, Justin Lagat, writes about the race, and why there was so little national coverage in Kenya....

John Mwangangi, 
photo by

This week, while searching for the results of one of the momentous athletic events on Kenya's athletics calendar, I was shocked to find that the leading newspapers here had nothing to write about it, yet were filling their spaces with the story of a hardly known Brazilian, Giovanni, who was handed a two year contract by one of the local clubs here in Kenya. A lot of media attention was being given to this foreign footballer and he was even featured training clumsily in the TV news, with the local club's coach expressing his dissatisfaction with the physical fitness of the footballer. I have no quarrel with the news agencies featuring this footballer, but they should have as well even said something about the significant event that happened in the same weekend, where most world champions and renowned athletes were participating - the final leg of Athletics Kenya Cross Country Championships.
The Athletics Kenya Chairman had alleged earlier on that after the 7th and last leg of the KCB cross country series that was held in Kericho on the 12th of January, 30 athletes were to be selected to be taken to a national training camp to begin their training for the World Cross Country Championships. This 7th leg was also a highly important event in that it was going to produce the overall winners of a jackpot prize of Ksh 1.2 million after adding the points of the best athletes in all the other events that happened from November last year. But, amazingly, no major media in Kenya featured the event. The two big newspapers in Kenya, The Daily Nation and The Standard Newspaper, never carried the story. I got these results from, Peter Kiptoo Cheruiyot, a friend who was there in Kericho following the event.
This isn't the first time a big athletics event in Kenya has suffered disregard from the media houses here. It isn't clear whether it is because of their reporter's ignorance about running, or lack of interest in the sport by the media houses. One thing I observed in October last year at the Ndalat Gaa Cross Country event, while in the company of some of the reporters for these big newspapers, is their lack of knowledge about the athletes, and the sport in general. I remember pointing out some world renowned athletes to them and could see how stupefied they were! During the last lap of the 12km men's senior race, I had to advise a photographer that the race was coming to an end and that he had to go to the finish line to take photos of the winner crossing the line. He had no idea how I knew that the race was coming to an end, the number of laps, and the time on the stopwatch could not help him make the judgment.
While I feel that the media here is not giving the deserved attention to athletics in Kenya, I also feel that the athletics governing body in the country has not been giving much information to the media. For example, so far, there is no media release to clarify the situation whereby 30 athletes are to be enrolled to a national training camp any time this week or next week. It is not clear yet where the camp will be situated. It is also not clear what will happen with the other athletes who are beginning their regional competitions from next month and aiming to win slots to represent the country in the World Cross Country Championships during the national trials to be held on the 16th of next month. On the same note, I keep wondering each year why the calendar of events is not posted on time on Athletics Kenya's website. Kenyan athletes are always in the dark as to when the next racing event will happen, and on the results of any event they could not attend.
Below are the results of the 7th leg of the KCB cross country championships. Since they do not appear anywhere in the major papers in Kenya, I've decided to publish them here for the sake of those who are still searching for them. Hosea Macharinyang and Emily Chebet won the jackpot prizes.
1. John MWANGANGI 36:56
2. Hosea MACHARINYANG 36:57
3. Geoffrey MUTAI 36:58
4. Geoffrey KIRUI  36:59
5. Julius KOGO 37:01
6. Charles KEMEI 37:04
7. Josphat BETT 37:11
8. Franklin CHEPKWONY 37:37
9. Richard SIGEI 37:44
10. Charles CHERUIYOT 37:56

1. Emily CHEBET  27:36
2. Jane MORAA 28:05
3. Beatrice CHEPKEMOI 28:09 
4. Alice KIMETO 28:14
5. Gladys KIPSOI 28:36
6. Susan LAKABA 28:39
7. Pricilla LORCHIMA 28:57
8. Lucy LIAVOGA 29:05
9. Hellen NGENO 29:11
10. Millicent GATHONI 29:16
I publish these results and criticisms in the hope that it will shame those who should have published them already to step up their game and keep us all informed of athletics news and events happening here in Kenya in a timely manner.

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