Battle of the finest as AK XC meet heads to Iten


Athletes race during the National Cross Country Championship at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya on ...
Athletes race during the National Cross Country Championship at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya on February 18, 2017. Photo/Sportpicha

Top and upcoming athletes will converge in Iten on Saturday as the region renowned for producing Kenya’s top cream prepares to host the fourth leg of the Athletics Kenya (AK) Cross Country series.

The beautiful scenery of the Great Rift Valley will turn into a battle zone with last year’s winner Emmanuel Kipsang expected to lead the home athletes in the chase for glory.

Fast rising stars from South and Central Rift regions will be desperate to make their marks on away turf with the red hot Sandrafelis Chebet out to continue her unbeaten run in this year’s local series in the senior women category.

Chebet who hails from Londiani is yet to taste defeat since the turn of the year when she graduated to the senior ranks, winning the Ndalat Gaa Cross Country which also doubled as the series curtain raiser. She was top at the third series held at Ol Kalou, Nyandarua County two weeks ago.

Also expected to be on the mix for the senior women is the World Cross Country bronze medalist Lilian Kasait who recently won the Wareng Cross country as she eyes a place in the Kenyan team for  the Africa cross country championships  as well as the commonwealth games slated for next year April in Gold Coast, Australia.

In the men’s category Emmanuel Bett who is the Ol Kalou champion is expected to face it off with the likes of Franklin Ngelel whom he beat at the finish line in the previous round.

Others expected are the Keringet-based David Bett who won the Nairobi meet and Peter Matelong who came in a distant fifth in Ol Kalou.

A mammoth crowd is expected at the Iten Grounds with athletics stars such as three-time 1500m World champion Asbel Kiprop and the recently crowned New York Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor expected to attend.

According to AK Elgeyo Marakwet branch chairman, Pius Lai, all is set for the event with the County Governor Alex Tolgos also expected grace the event.

“We are ready for the Saturday event, we have completed all the preparations including the marking of the field and everything is now set as we only await for the visitors and I would like to appeal to fans to turn up in numbers to witness the event,” Lai said.

With the Cross Country for the Africa cross country championships set to be named next year February, many athletes are set to storm the competitions with the 5th meet slated for next year 6th January at Kapsakwony in Bungoma County.

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Story By Gilbert Kiprotich
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