• Bumper entry for Kenya Cross country trials
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  • courtesy IAAFcourtesy IAAF
Feb 17, 2011-

The reigning World cross country senior men’s champion Joseph Ebuya leads a strong field of 150 runners lined up for Saturday’s (19) National championships at the Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi.

Ebuya who has been in a fine form this season looks set to defend his title, in the absence of Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele who will not be at the 2011 world cross in Punta Umbria, Spain.
The man who ended Kenya’s decade long gold drought at the 12km men’s race at worlds last year, is favoured to cross the line amongst the top four automatic qualifiers this weekend.

In six races this season, he only lost his once in early November to last years world cross silver medallist Eritrean Teklemariam Medhi in Spain; but he quickly avenged that defeat with a resounding win against the North African a month later.

Ebuya, 23, finished way off in 23rd at the Military qualifiers.

“I would love to defend my gold medal at the World championships but then the bigger test is on Saturday, making the team!” said Ebuya.

Also in contention will be Leonard Komon, the world record holder in the 10 and 15km, itching to clinch a Gold medal which has eluded him in five appearances at the worlds as a junior as well as a senior runner.

Youngster Titus Mbishei, silver medallist at the world junior race two years ago, 2010 World Cross country champion Caleb Mwangangi, Lucas Rotich a silver medallist at the world youth in 3000m and seasoned athletes Micah Kogo Olympic 10000 bronze medalist, Eliud Kipchoge, Richard Matelong,Abraham Chebii are among 53 runners entered as individuals by Athletics Kenya.

The focus in the women’s 8k race will no doubt be on the Kenyan Police trio of Linet Masai,the two times silver medallist at the world cross, Vivian Cheruyoit,the world and commonwealth 5000m champion and Sylvia Kibet the world silver medallist.

Masai has won two of her three races in her buildup for the event but was beaten by Cheruyoit in their last race in Spain.
The two will undoubtedly set up a mouth-watering duel in the race that will also include Grace Momanyi, 10 at the 2009 World cross ,Prisca Jepleting and strong Forces team comprising Innes Chenonge,10th at the 2009 world cross country, Penina Arusei and Doris Changeiywo who placed fourth in 2008 event in Edinburgh.

Last years World junior cross country champion Mercy Cherono will also be looking to run her first senior 8km race in Spain.

The men’s junior race should be a battle between world junior medallists and the world youth stars as they look to move up to the senior ranks. Jackpot contenders Simon Cheprot and Nicholas Togom are sure to spice up the competition.

In the absence of Cherono who has moved up the ranks the women’s junior is an open race with Purity Cherotich, Esther Chemtai and Faith Chepngetich; second, third and fourth respectively last year in Bydgoszcz looking to take over from Cherono in the 6km race.


The weekend trials will be used to pick the Kenya squads for the inaugural Africa cross country to be held in South Africa on March 6 an the world cross country two weeks later in Spain. 

Evelyn Watta

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