Chepng'etich, Jebitok take the battle to Sandra in Nairobi Cross Country
World marathon champion Ruth Chepng’etich and Edinah Jebitok take the battle to defending champion Sandra Chebet when the Athletic Kenya Nairobi Cross Country Championships go down Saturday at Kenya Prisons Service grounds, Nairobi West.
It will be Chepng’etich's first race this year after having won her first World Marathon Major Series race, the Chicago Marathon on October 10, last year in 2:22:31.
Last year, Chepng’etich claimed bronze during the Lotto/Athletics Kenya Cross Country Championships after settling third behind the winner Sheila Chelangat from Kenya Police and Daisy Cherotich from Central.
Jebitok is fresh from winning the Elgoibar Juan Muguerza Cross Country Championship in Spain on Sunday, beating counterpart, 2019 World Cross Country Under-20 champion Beatrice Chebet to second place.
Last year, Sandra weaved through the gusty course with ease to win in 33 minutes and 48.7 seconds, beating her sister Emily Chebet to second place in 35:07.8.
Naibei Kiplimo from Embakasi, who waylaid the large field to reign supreme in the men's 10m race last year is back to defend his title.
Kiplimo, who settled second in 2020, rallied from behind heading into the final lap, sweeping past four rivals to win in 30:04.77.
AK Nairobi Branch chairman Barnaba Korir said that they will use the championships to select their team for the National Cross Country Championships due for January 22 at Lobo Village, Eldoret.
"Four categories will be contested at the event and they include the men and women’s Under-20 and the men and women's 10km contests in the senior categories," said Korir, adding that Nairobi will select a strong team.
“We have always been a force to reckon with especially in the Under-20 races and we expect similar results this year,” said Korir, singling out Beatrice Chebet, who went on to win the world junior title in 2019.
The National Cross Country Championships will be used as a dry run for the Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour programmed for February 12 this year at Lobo Village, Eldoret.
World Cross Country champion Joshua Cheptegei, men's World Half Marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo, all of Uganda, and two-time World Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor are among the elite athletes expected for the world tour.
Two-time world cross country Under-20 women’s champion Letesenbet Gidey from Ethiopia are among top athletes coming for Tirop’s event.
Gidey, the 2019 World Cross Country bronze medallist, holds the 10,000m (29:01.03) and 5,000m (14:06.62) world records as well as the world half marathon record of 1:02:52.
Also in the mix are the World 10,000m bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto, who is also the 10km world record holder, national cross country champion Rogers Kwemoi and 2015 world cross country silver medallist Bedan Karoki.
A combined amount of more than $400,000 (Sh40 million) in prize money is on offer for the best tour performers, including a new pool of $75,000 (Sh 7.5 million) for the best male and female cross country runners.