Team Cheruiyot, led by World 1,500 metres champion Timothy Cheruiyot, is targeting a winning time of sub-four minutes and 50 seconds in the virtual Maurie Plant Memorial Race on June 11.
Dubbed ‘Impossible Games’, the Maurie Plant Memorial Race will see Team Cheruiyot, made up of Cheruiyot, 2017 World 1,500m champion Elijah Manang’oi, 800m runner Edwin Meli, 800m runner Timothy Sein and 1,500m athlete Vincent Keter take on Team Ingebrigtsen made of world-famous Ingebrigtsen brothers Jakob, Henrik and Filip, and two other athletes over 2,000m.
Team Cheruiyot will run at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, while Team Ingebrigtsen and two other yet-to-be-named athletes, will run at Bislett Stadium in Norway.
And Cheruiyot has pointed out that it has been though adjusting to 2,000m race in training, saying that with the 2,000m race that stretches over five laps requires a good strategy, and theirs is to spend between 56 and 57 seconds in covering the first three laps.
“We want to do the last lap in 53 seconds, and it will be great to finish under for four minutes and 50 seconds,” Cheruiyot, the 2018 and 2019 Diamond League champion, said. “In fact, we are aiming at one of us finishing the race in 4:44.”
The 24-year-old Cheruiyot, who has competed in more than five distances (800m, 1,500m, One Mile, 5,000m and distance medley relay), said they have had to change their training programme by introducing more lapping sessions to cover an additional 400m to 500m.
“We have also added more of the long runs as we train how to spread our energies across the distances,” said Cheruiyot, who has tipped Manang’oi and Meli to return good times in the race.
“Meli has been in camp while Manang’oi has had at least a month of training. I just started two weeks ago but all has been well for me, having hit the track for the first time in a while,” said Cheruiyot.
Cheruiyot said their Norwegian opponents will have a slight advantage over his team owing to difference in altitude and more so because they have been in training longer.
Oslo lies at an altitude of 23 metres while Nairobi is 1,795 metres above sea level.
“They will have the advantage of competing at a lower altitude, practically at sea level while we shall be higher up. Nevertheless, we shall take them head-on,” said Cheruiyot.
Cheruiyot, who has personal best of 1:43.11 in 800m, 3:28.41 in 1,500m and 3:49.64 in One Mile, said the Maurie Plant Memorial is part of his preparations for the Diamond League and World Athletics Continental Tour starting in August.
“You realise we shall have few races this season owing to the Covid-19 pandemic but our main focus is now on next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games,” said Cheruiyot, who is targeting on open his Diamond League season with his 1,500m title defence in Monaco on August 14.
The 2020 Diamond League that has been shortened, will end in October and has 11 events.
Several events being cancelled for instance Rabat, London and Zurich as organisers continue to adapt the season in the face of the coronavirus crisis.