Kampala — Joshua Cheptegei is the man to beat whenever his name is announced on the starting list.
Saturday will be no different as the 2017 athlete of the year is expected to be the big name attraction in the national cross country 10km race in Jinja. It remains to be seen whether he will sacrifice this race after he landed a lucrative invitation to the inaugural Athletix Grand Prix Series South Africa starting on March 1, but his presence will trigger an electric race.
The 21-year-old World Championship 10,000m silver medallist already qualified for the Commonwealth Games in April but the athletics governing body, UAF, is keen to assess the fitness of their distance runners.
"We understand that some athletes qualified but we need to evaluate them such that we present a competitive team," Dominic Otucet, the UAF president said.
Cheptegei will be tested by World Cross Country junior champion Jacob Kiplimo.
The cross country will also be a qualifier for the CAA African Cross Country Championships to be held in Chlef, Algeria, on March 17.
"The African Championships is an important building block as we prepare for the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and this is a great platform for potential stars to test themselves against some of the world's best," said Otucet.
The event will also have a mixed really which middle distance runners use to assess their endurance. Ronald Musagala and Abu Mayanja, who are expected to grace the event said it is key for their qualification.
"I have never failed to qualify and I want to go to Jinja to test myself for the remaining two time trials," Musagala noted.
Yesterday, MTN Uganda, the official sponsors of the athletics body also announced a Shs20m package for the Saturday Championship during a brief ceremony at the UAF offices in Kampala. Shs7m will be in cash prizes to the first five teams and top five finishers.