The Athletics Kenya Cross Country series end on January 9, 2016 with the seventh leg at Kabianga University, Kericho County.
The results in the meeting, which will be run at high altitude, will determine who wins the Sh100,000 jackpot.
Dominant athletes Cleophas Ng’etich, Dominic Kiptarus, Caroline Chepkoech and Sheila Chepkurui underline the start lists in the senior men and women's events in a must-win contest to claim overall crowns.
But the front-runners will have to employ their winning tricks as they compete to see off the challenge of new forces like Philip Langat and Faith Chepng’etich.
The two have been sitting on the fence but will want to reaffirm their authority at the Kabianga University grounds with victories just as they did last year in a similar race in the area.
The quartet of Sandra Chebet, her sister Emily Chebet, Alfred Ng’eno and Andrew Lorot will be leaving nothing to chance as they seek their last victories as juniors before moving up to the senior ranks later in the season.
“Sandra and Emily opted out of the Kapsokwony meeting on the eve of the race because they wanted to run at home and end the series with the jackpot,” their coach Paul Kemei said. “They were just from Machakos and may not have performed well in Mount Elgon.”
The Sotik meet concludes the countrywide series. It will pave the way for the Kenya Defence Forces National Cross Country championships on January 15 that will signal the start of all the big contests in the country with runners eyeing the international stage.
The Kenya Police Service Cross Country challenge will follow on January 16, the Kenya Prisons Service contest on January 23 and Regions competition on January 30.
The series has produced different winners since it started on November 7 in Nairobi. The penultimate leg was held at Kapsokwony in Mt Elgon, Bungoma County, on January 2, 2016.
The bulk of the participants will be expected to come from the training camps in the region — such as Kericho, Keringet, Olenguruoni, Bomet, Kuresoi and Nakuru — as well as institutions like the Police and Prisons services, which have been hosting the event.
Naomy Chebet, who finished second in the fourth leg in Iten, won in Mt Elgon with new entrants Charles Chemengich beating Nairobi winner Kiptarus, who finished second, in the senior men’s 10-kilometre race.
Sandra Chebet, the World Youth 2,000m steeplechase silver medallist, has three straight wins — from Nairobi, Iten and Machakos — and will be seeking a fourth one to grab the jackpot. The 16-year-old has announced plans to win a second African title in Yaoundé, Cameroon, after bagging the Africa Youth steeplechase title in a championship record last year.
Sheila Chelangat and Isaac Kipsang dominated the junior races and it will be interesting to see who will carry the day in Sotik should other series winners — Cecilia Maria (Kangaru), Ivyn Chepkemoi (Nyahururu) and Sandra Chebet (Nairobi and Iten) — also compete.
Kiptarus, Ng’etich and Emmanuel Kipsang have won in Nairobi, Embu, Nyahururu and Iten while Chepkoech, Chepkurui and Pauline Korikwiang won the senior women’s 10km duel in Nairobi, Embu and Iten respectively.
“The preparations are already complete,” said AK South Rift chairman Jon Wachira. “Everything is in place and the course already created.”