The Track Season is finally here! by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder

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Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat, 2012 Doha SDL, 
photo by

Justin Lagat wrote this column on March 16,  in anticipation of the first outdoor meeting of the season in Kenya. Lagat speaks for track fans everywhere, about the surprises that can come at major events, and one would expect some surprises with the early season meets in Kenya as the 2013 season begins...


There is always bound to be a great memorable moment in every track meeting you will ever attend anywhere, but more so when it is here in Kenya. The more you attend these meetings, the more you get excited about the next one, because by then, you will have become a fan of some athletes and you will want to follow their performances in the next meetings. 

One moment I still remember from last year's Athletics Kenya (AK) track meeting in Kitale was the final kick by Elkana Yego as he opened a gap in the last 200m to win the 1500m race. That final sprint has remained in my memory and although he is not one of the world's greatest runners at the moment, he is now one of the athletes on my list of those to watch out for this year.

The first AK meeting for this year happened this weekend (March 16) in Nairobi after having been moved from last week due to the general elections. Events that featured in this meeting ranged from the 100m to the 1500m races. This meeting were used to pick a team to Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania, in April 25 to 27, in the US. 

Pamela Jelimo and Timothy Kitum were some of the athletes that were expected to compete in the 400m events, but they failed to feature. It is always usual for athletes to run events that are not their specialties in these early meetings in order to strengthen their weaknesses. Both Pamela and Timothy specialize in the 800m events during world's greatest events, but they are likely to be running shorter distances as some form of speed workouts for them in the next meetings.

Asbel Kiprop, Beijing's 1500m Olympic Champion, is one of the athletes who usually features in most of these AK meetings where he runs almost in all the distances except only for the 100m, the 3000m steeplechase and the 10,000m. He often does all the other events fairly well; a different event for each different meeting.

Silas Kiplagat, his main rival in the 1500m race, also features in most of the meetings too, but often does the 800m event only. Most of these world champions, at times though, do not always run in the finals, they just run one heat to gauge their times and are done.

Barnabas Korir, who is the AK's Nairobi branch chairman, has warned that action will be taken against athletes who skip the finals after sailing through the qualifying rounds. But, I can only wonder if this move will be received well by most other athletes whose main reason for missing in the finals is that their budget cannot allow them to pay for hotel accommodation as they wait for the finals for the following days. Not unless AK will undertake to pay for that.

There are two things I am always waiting to see happen one time in these AK meetings, as much as most people out there wait for a sub 2 hour marathon. One is to see a world record being set on Kenyan soil and the other one is to see an athlete out of East Africa win a race here.

Two brothers from New Zealand who have been training in Kenya for more than five years now, Zane and Jake Robertson, caused a big stir during one of the track meetings last year when they showed a possibility of being the first foreigners to win a race here in Kenya after they both made it through to the finals of the 1500m race in Kitale. To me, and to everyone who knows how competitive the Kenyan races are, that was a great achievement. Their achievement was published in most of the running publications, especially in New Zealand. It will be interesting to see the stir these twins will cause this year after the encouraging performance they did last year and the headlines they made in the sports papers.

From now on until the national trials scheduled for 11- 13 July, there will be series of track meetings across the country. Another season to participate in some of the meetings, witness new talents emerging, make predictions for the world championships, watch more memorable moments on track and run side by side with world's greatest runners.

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