The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Focus Turns to Eldoret

Established and up and coming athletes to battle in AK/KCB cross race

ACTION galore is expected on Saturday as the cross country bigwigs take their battle to the Eldoret Polytechnic for the sixth leg of the Athletics Kenya and Kenya Commercial Bank (AK/KCB) cross country series.

The established and up and coming athletes will be taking on each other in order to make their cut for the limited slots in the team for the world cross country championships set for Poland on March while some will be chasing the Sh1.2m jackpot.

Being the city of champions, Eldoret leg will definitely offer thrills and spills as many of them resides and trains in the region. As a tradition, overseas athletes training at the various camps in the North Rift region will also put their best foot forward to gauge their performances against Kenya's top cream runners.

Cross country runner Hosea Macharinyang and also the series leader in the men's 12km is expected to grace the event to garner points. He is leading with five points in close contention for the title with Peter Mateelong who has two points. Macharinyang scooped the points having placed second in Nyahururu and Embu with a win at Kapsokwony.

Mateelong on the other hand has two wins from the Nyahururu and Embu meetings and he has to honour Eldoret and the series penultimate leg in Kericho to win the jackpot. Macharinyang who has run at the world cross country thrice can run at the Eldoret meet or wait for the seventh leg in Kericho to be crowned. He placed sixth, fifth and 11th at the world cross country championships in Japan (2006), Kenya (2007) and Scotland (2008).

In the senior women's 8km, Fancy Jemutai from Mt.Elgon is leading with seven points while the world junior 3,000m gold medalist Mercy Chebwogen tops the junior women with five points. She won in Embu and placed second at the Nyahururu and Kapsokwony.

Event organisers said they are expecting over a 1,000 athletes to honour the meet as their build up for the world cross country.

"Selection for the athletes for the world cross in normally tough and they have to honour these meets to shape up. We are expecting several of them to grace the Eldoret event on Saturday." David Okeyo Athletics Kenya secretary general said.

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