Noah Kipkemboi on his way to win the senior men’s race, photo by Justin Lagat/Kenyanathlete
Next to the steeplechase, Kenya holds World Cross Counry dear to its heart. The World Cross Country title is a big deal and the level of competition to make the team, across Kenya, is tremendous. Justin Lagat wrote this piece about his local sub county race, that was held on January 14, 2017.
The journey to select athletes who will represent Kenya at the world cross country championships in Kampala, Uganda started today (January 14) across the North Rift region of Kenya.
According to Athletics Kenya calendar, the County cross country championships are yet to take place across the whole country, but due to the high population of athletes in the North Rift region, sub-county championships are usually done before the County championships. So, today there were various meetings across the county and I attended the Kapseret sub-county event that draws athletes from the South and Eastern parts of the Uasin Gishu County, including athletes from some of the famous camps in Kaptagat.
Athletes from a relatively new camp, the Complete Sports Camp, made the meeting exciting as they dominated all the events, especially the men’s senior race.
Noah Kipkemboi led his colleagues to a 1-2-3-4 finish in a thrilling senior men’s race. One individual athlete finished 5th before another one from the Complete Sports’ camp came in sixth to complete the team that will proceed to the County championships in Eldoret next week. If they will make it again there, they will proceed to the regional championships and then further to the national trials next month.
From around the 3km mark, four athletes wearing the same black and white uniform had already formed a leading pack at the front. As though one other athlete in the same uniform got some inspiration from watching his colleagues at the front, he struggled through the rest of the field and soon the pack at the front comprised of five athletes from the Complete Sports.
However, with two laps to go, Kipkemboi started inject some pace at the front and the rest followed in a single file as the gap kept increasing between each of them and one of them being overtaken by an another athlete before they could all reach the finish. Daniel Kipchumba finished second while Zablon Kipchumba took third.
The trio of Nicholas Kimeli, Rhonex Kipruto and Robert Mwei towards the finish of junior men’s racephoto by Justin Lagat/Kenyanathlete
The junior men’s race was also quite interesting as the leading pack of three decided to replay the scene from the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the Olympic trials when Ezekiel Kemboi, Conseslus Kipruto and Brimin Kipruto had decided to run together shoulder to shoulder as the crossed the finish line. What was important was to make the team as the trio of Nicholas Kimeli, Rhonex Kipruto and Robert Mwei crossed the finish line together.
Also, notable in the event was a 55 year old father of five, Benson Kibe who completed the senior men’s race. He is one of the few masters in the country who are encouraging the older generations to keep on running and staying fit despite their age.
55 year old Benson Kibe after completing the senior men’s race, photo by Justin Lagat/Kenyanathlete
Not sure if they had traveled to other venues perceived to have less competition, but both the senior and junior women could not reach a good number to be able to compete for team positions in their races and so the two races failed to take place.
Officials giving advice to the selected team, photo by Justin Lagat/Kenyanathlete
As the officials wished the best to the selected teams, they were also reminded about the value of remaining discipline in their training, to know that there are no shortcuts to success and also to reject any offer from people who may suggest to them to try anything they do not know in order to boost their running.
For the rest who did not make the team, they were reminded that Kampala is not far and that they should begin looking for fare to go and cheer their team and the world event in March.