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More pain for Kenyan athletes as races called off

Wednesday March 11 2020
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New York Marathon Champion Joyciline Jepkosgey (second right), with training partners Elkana Kipchirchir (right), Emmanuel Cherutich second (left) and Stephen Lelei during a training session on the Iten-Kaptagat road in Elgeyo-Marakwet County on March 8, 2020. Jepkosgey was preparing for the New York Half Marathon which has now been cancelled due to fears over the coronavirus epidemic. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

By BERNARD ROTICH

When Haile Gebrselassie visited athletes in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, last month, New York Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei was one of those he inspired.

Ethiopian legend Gebrselassie met Jepkosgei during her training at Iten as she prepared for the New York Half Marathon scheduled for this Sunday.

But the race has now been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis which has hit the world with sport being badly affected.

Also put on hold is the Vienna City Marathon and the Prague Half Marathon, both scheduled for next month.

Curtain-raisers to the April 20 Boston Marathon have also been cancelled. The cancellation of the New York Half Marathon has also affected former World Half Marathon Championships silver medallist Mary Ngugi, who has been training in Nyahururu, Laikipia County.

Ngugi has also been preparing for the Boston Marathon.

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The duo was supposed to travel to USA Thursday, but the situation has changed and they have to continue training.

Ngugi said she will continue training and praying that the virus will be contained for normal programmes to go on. “There is nothing I can say, but I will continue training praying that the virus will be contained because it has affected all sporting events in the world. It has been happening with other races and athletes,” she said.

Ngugi shifted her training to Addis Ababa as part of preparations to improve her performance next month in Boston. Jepkosgei has been named in the elite field of next month’s London Marathon where she will be battling it out with her compatriots who include defending champion and world record holder Brigid Kosgei and 2018 champion Vivian Cheruiyot.

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