Justin Lagat sent us this piece for the upcoming exciting cross-country races in Kenya over the next two weeks. 

Tomorrow, the 21st of January, marks the beginning of a two weeks cross-country extravaganza in Kenya, beginning with the national championships in Ruiru, followed by the Nike Discovery Cross Country on the 29th at the Sports Club in Eldoret, and finally the World Athletics Continental Tour Sirikwa Cross Classic in Lobo village, in the outskirts of Eldoret town.

For a long time, Nike Discovery Kenya has been priding itself on being the biggest cross-country event in the country. The venue of the event is at the heart of where most of the world’s best distance runners train and live, giving it some advantage over the national cross-country championships that often happened in Nairobi. The huge cheering crowds in Eldoret make the cross country an electrifying event to attend, and memories of great battles like the one between Bedan Karoki and Wilson Kiprop in 2014 (https://www.runblogrun.com/2014/01/wilson-kiprop-and-priscah-jeptoo-emerge-winners-at-nike-discover-kenya-xc-by-justin-lagat.html) still remain fresh in the minds of many athletic fans.

But, the debate on which one was the biggest event in the country was before the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting was launched in Eldoret; the Sirikwa Cross Country Classic formerly known as the Agnes Tirop Classic. Now, it is clear which is the biggest cross-country event in the country.

Wilson KIprop in finishing chutes, (2014)
photo by Justin Lagat

Last year, winners of the senior races at national cross country championships proceeded to win the Continental Tour Cross Country event as well. Joyce Chepkemoi had won the women’s race ahead of Margaret Chelimo, just in the same order they had finished three weeks ago at the nationals at the same venue. Samuel Chebolei, as well, repeated the win in the men’s senior race after holding off a determined chase from Nicholas Kimeli, who would finish second.

While it sounds exciting to have these three big cross-country events in the country happening consecutively, perhaps it might not be easy to have big stars from one event featured in the next, given the short recovery time between them. Some of the cross-country runners in the country will also be preparing to represent the country at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia, next month and will definitely miss out.

However, Kenya teems with a lot of cross-country talent. Even if different runners would do different events, each event will witness spectacular performances and exciting competitions.



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