A field of 416 athletes line up on Saturday at Ngong Race Course in yet another explosive trials to select the best 24 runners to travel to Amman, Jordan for the World Cross Country Championship set for March 28.
Young runners have been banging hard on the door and veteran elite runners are not outright favourites as would be expected.
Two runners - Grace Momanyi and Barnabas Kosgei - have a point to prove to the national coach Julius Kirwa and the Athletics Kenya (AK) officials.
Kosgei was dropped in last year’s team to Edinburgh and Kirwa accused him of bias. Momanyi, on the other hand, was unceremoniously removed from the 10,000m team and thrown out of the Olympic athletes village in Beijing by the AK officials.
She’s is among the top seeds in the senior women 8km race which has attracted both young and old athletes. From the 19-year-old Masai, the world cross country bronze medallist to 31-year-old Sally Barsosio, the 1997 world 10,000m champion, the rush for Jordan is at full throttle.
Kenya Police team of Masai, Momanyi, Florence Kiplagat, Margaret Wangari and Pauline Njeri faces a tough challenge to defend the women 8km race against the intent of Linet Chepkurui, Pauline Korikwiang, Irine Limika, Iness Chenonge and Peninah Arusei to take it away. Coach Kirwa has a good feeling about Kenya’s prospects.
“I’m happy that this time round we stand a very good chance of dominating the senior women’s race in Amman. We have a great crop of runners here and I will make sure I work on the athletes that are presented to me after the national championships,” said Kirwa.
Places on the junior women’s team will be contested by among others, Mercy Cherono, the world junior and youth champion in the 3,000m race, Nelly Chebet, Fridah Kaimuri and Christine Kambua Muyanga who is back from Japan.
Others are Jackline Chebii, Hilda Chepkemoi and Fridah Kaimuri in 6km junior race. Chepkemoi stands out as outright favourites with win in Kisii, Eldoret and Nyahururu.
Japheth Korir will be the man to watch in the 8km junior men. He has won almost every event he has entered in this year. But the Youth Commonwealth Games 5,000m bronze medallist needs to find a way of keeping at bay the likes of Lucas Rotich, Peter Kimeli, Titus Mbishae, Alex Oloitiptip and Josephat Bett.