World Military Games 10,000 metres champion, Mark Kiptoo, and Lineth Chepkurui carry the Kenyan cross country team’s obligations as captain and deputy respectively diligently, each keen to strike a balance between leadership and running.
Incidentally, it will be the first time for both runners to assume the armband and their performances so far have impressed the coaches.
Elected by fellow athletes to their positions, the two are responsible for maintaining the link between the technical bench and the athletes.
When morale was down as athletes waited for their training allowances, shoes and kit, the duo had to ensure that training went on normally as officials struggled to meet their demands.
“For that we are happy. We have got the best training environment and it is important to have all the athletes remain keen on the task ahead,” says Kiptoo.
Aged 33, Kiptoo has refused to give up his quest for a first cross country title at the March 28 World Cross Country Championships in Amman.
“It is a challenge to be in the middle of the two factions – the technical bench and officials on one side and the athletes on the other. You need to serve them both satisfactory and still do well in training,” he said.
Chepkurui, who is in the senior women’s 8km team, has just shaken off a hamstring injury that she sustained in Edinburgh last year where she struggled to finish 12th in 26.05 in a world cross country championships race won by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba.
“The injury is gone and I have the urge to go and showcase my true ability. This is our year,” she said.
The two athletes’ leaders know there is no gain without pain and they have received full support of the head coach, Julius Kirwa.