This is Justin Lagat’s piece on the Discovery XC 2018 race, coming up this weekend! The race is on my to do list, so hope next time I can get into seeing it.
It has been unusually a while since an athletics event happened in Eldoret. The last big one here was the Family Bank half marathon that took place on the 8thof October last year. A number of big races that included an Athletics Kenya track meeting failed to take place and many upcoming athletes are now hungrier for a chance to test their form and hopefully impress new agents during the “biggest cross country event in Kenya” on Sunday.
This event continues to attract the best distance runners in Kenya from the track 1500m up to the marathon. One of the big stars who have already confirmed their participation at the Sunday’s event includes the men’s Olympic and world 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop. Kiprop has been a frequent participant at this Cross Country event for many years now, often pacing the first two to four kilometers before stepping out while at times finishing it as part of his endurance training ahead of the track season.
To describe the how big the Nike Discovery Cross country event is, last year’s winner in the women’s senior category went ahead to win the IAAF world cross country championship title in Uganda. And, even though the winner in the men’s race choose to forego the world cross country championships to focus on the London Marathon, the runner who exchanged the lead with the eventual winner for much of the race went ahead to win the men’s world cross country title in Uganda as well.
It will be interesting to see if Bedan Karoki will want to defend and win the men’s senior title for a third consecutive time here, or if Geoffrey Kamworor will want use the event to test his shape ahead of the Valencia IAAF world half marathon championships in March.
Last year’s battle in the women’s senior race was between Irene Cheptai and Lilina Kasait in which the two took the first two positions in that order. About two months later, Cheptai became the reigning IAAF world cross country champion after leading all of her team mates to an unprecedented dominance at the global event in Kampala, Uganda. Alice Aprot had wedged inbetween to finish second as Kasait took third.
Like it has always been in the past editions, fierce competitions in the junior and senior races should be expected on Sunday with new surprises and talents as well.