Tough competition expected at the 25th Nike Discover Cross Country in Eldoret this weekend, by Justin Lgat
Tough competition expected at the 25th Nike Discovery Cross Country in Eldoret this weekend, by Justin Lagat
A placard in Iten town announcing the cross country event happening this weekend at the Sports Club grounds in Eldoret termed the event as the "biggest cross country event in Kenya." I cannot refute that, having attended many of the past editions here and having seen the number of competitors who turn up, the nature of the organization and the level of the competition.
Elite fields are not usually announced in Kenyan track and cross country events because they just turn up voluntarily on race day, register and run. It is one of the reasons that make these events more interesting. You never know who will be there and cannot possibly guess who the winner will be until you watch the race. You start seeing many big stars in the leading pack during the race and you start making your predictions as the race progresses.
The past champions expected to come back are Peter Emase, who won last year's edition and Wilson Kiprop, who won the 2014 edition. Defending champions in most of the Kenyan races often find it hard to defend their titles, which go a long way in telling how much these races are competitive.
Geoffrey Kamworor, the reigning world cross country champion, even though he has never won here before, has also confirmed his participation and desire to win. Kamworor will be aiming to set a new world record for the half marathon in Cardiff during the IAAF world half marathon championships in March. Kamworor will be using the cross country race here to sharpen his speed ahead of the championships. With the fact that he expects to pace himself to a world record in Cardiff, one should expect that he will try to break away early from the pack during the Discovery race in order to perfect his strategy. But, will he be able to shake off the strong field of other determined runners that will be there? Time will tell.
Asbel Kiprop, the three times world champion and Olympic champion over the 1500m distance has also confirmed his participation.
Conseslus Kipruto lost his shoe last year after he was spiked and had to pull out of the race. It will be interesting to see how fast he will be able to run this weekend.
Agnes Tirop won the senior women's race last year before going ahead to win the world title in Guiyang. Priscah Jeptoo had won the 2014 edition. Other women expected to compete include Violah Kibiwott and Hyvin Kiyeng, the world's 3,000m steeplechase champion.
A larger number of participants are expected this weekend, being the 25thedition. This event which is organized by Rosa and Associati and sponsored by Nike will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee and, expectedly, the winning prizes will be increased.