Seasoned long distance runners Mang’ata Ndiwa and Veronica Nyaruai will highlight the eighth and final leg of the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series on Saturday at Kang’aru Boys School in Embu.
Nyaruai, who won silver medals in under-20 races at the 2005 and 20006 World Cross Country Championships, makes a return after she suffered a hamstring injury that saw her fail to finish her race during the first leg of the series in Nairobi in November.
VIBRANT JUNIOR CAREER
Nyaruai, who had a vibrant junior career, also won bronze in under-20 race at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa besides posting victories in 3,000m at 2006 World Under-20 and World Under-18 Championships.
Besides Nyaruai, the senior women’s race has attracted the likes of Imenti South Road Race winner Pauline Njeru and Anne Wangare among others.
Ndiwa made a return to Kenya team for the first time since the 2009 World Cross Country to win bronze in 5,000m at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships last year in Durban, South Africa.
It will be his first race for Ndiwa, the 2006 Fukuoka World Cross Country junior winner, since his Durban exploits. Ndiwa will battle several local season athletes like Maurice Munene and James Kimathi.
“We are ready for the championships and the course look challenging with the introduction of obstacles among other artificial features,” said the race local organizing committee chairman Stephen Njeru. “The field look rich with the like of Nyaruai and Mang’ata coming.”
The junior women’s race will kick off the championships at 8.30am. The Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series will pave way for institutional and regional cross country races as the count down to the National Cross Country Championships due February 18 at Ngong Racecourse continues.
It’s at the national meet where Team Kenya will be picked for the World Cross Country Championships planned for March 26 in Kampala.
Kenyans Geoffrey Kamworor and Agnes Tirop won the senior titles during the previous 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China as Ethiopia claimed junior races through Yasin Haji (men) and Letesenbet Gidey (women).
This year, Kenya will be without 2015 World Cross Country Championships silver medallist Bedan Karoki who is looking to settle on the road.
Karoki, also the World Half Marathon Championships silver medallist, is planning his full marathon debut at the London Marathon on April 26, this year.
He said he will not to take part in the National Cross Country Championships next month opting to “offer other athletes a chance to run the World Cross Country Championships.”
However, Karoki, who finished seventh in 10,000 metres at last year’s Rio Olympic Games, said his love affair with track is still intact as he targets the 10,000m title at London World Championships in August this year.
Karoki said it’s a high time he stopped playing second fiddle in 10,000m where he finished sixth at the 2013 Moscow Worlds and fourth at the 2015 Beijing Worlds.
Karoki, who has competed in seven half marathon races, running all of them in under 60 minutes, said he will defend his Discovery Cross Country race on January 22 in Eldoret before focusing on Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on February 10 in the UAE.
“The RAK race will form part of my preparations for my full marathon race in London God willing,” said Karoki, who competed at the 2012 Fukuoka Marathon but as a pacesetter and never competed the race.
“I feel I’m mentally and physically strong for full marathon and I should also double on track just as my good friend Geoffrey Kamworor, who has done it so well,” explained Karoki.