Foreigners to battle local stars for glory at World x-country tour

The one-day event, named after 2015 World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop, will bring together international and Kenyan athletes at Lobo Village, Eldoret

In Summary

•Former world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor will lead Kenyans in the senior men's race

•In the women's elite race, Ethiopian duo of Letesenbet Gidey and Senbere Teferi will face off against Kenya's Norah Jeruto and Margaret Chelimo

•There will also be local races in six categories 

Geoffrey Kamworor celebrates during a past National Police Cross Country Championships at Ngong Racecourse
Geoffrey Kamworor celebrates during a past National Police Cross Country Championships at Ngong Racecourse
Image: FILE

At least 25 foreigners have been invited to the Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour scheduled for February 12 at Lobo Village, Eldoret.

Among the international athletes who will be seeking glory on Kenyan soil include African 5000m bronze medalist Yemane Haileselassie of Eritrea, European Cross Country bronze medalist Aras Kaya of Turkey, 2017 World Mountain Running Championship silver medalist Joel Ayeko of Uganda, and  Arab Championship 10,000m champion Albert Rop of Bahrain. 

For Kaya (born Amos Kibitok) and Rop, it will be sort of a homecoming, having started out their careers as Kenyans before switching to their adopted countries.

Apart from his third-place finish at the European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg, Netherlands. Kaya's other podium finishes include a silver medal at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and bronze at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan (both 3000m steeplechase). 

Equally, Rop boasts a crammed trophy cabinet, which includes gold at the Arab Championship (5,000m) as well as silver at the Asian Championship (5,000m), Asian Games (5,000m), 2015 Arab Championships (5,000m), and 2016 Asian Indoor Championship (3,000m). 

Leading the Kenyan Batallion will be the former world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor, who will feature in the men's 10km race.  Kamworor will be hoping the one-day event will offer the spark he needs to return to winning ways after his recent struggles with injuries.

The three-time world half marathon champion missed out on last year's Tokyo Olympics due to injury, close to four months after he was compelled to pull out of the national cross country championship midway through the senior men's 10km race at Ngong Race Course. 

Another Kenyan who will be hoping to benefit from home advantage is the 2009 World Youth Championship 2000m steeplechase gold medalist Hillary Yego. 

It will be equally a cut-throat competition in the ladies division where 5000m and 10,000m world record holder, Letesenbet Gidey and 2015 world cross country silver medallist Senbere Teferi, both of Ethiopia, will be competing.

They will be up against a strong Kenyan cast composed of world 5000m silver medalist Margaret Chelimo and 2016 Africa Championship 3000m steeplechase Norah Jeruto.

Jeruto is on a high, having won the women's title at the Discovery Kenya Cross Country Championship in Eldoret on Saturday, and will be hoping the trend continues in two weeks' time. 

The 2021 Diamond League trophy winner overcame her younger sister, a former world under 20 2,000m steeplechase silver medalist Daisy Jepkemei, to take the top gong.  Also in the mix is Kenyan-born Bahraini Winfred Yavi and Ugandan Esther Chebet. 

Apart from these elite races, the one-day event will feature local competitions in the following categories—10km senior men; 6km U-18 boys; 5km u18 girls; 8km U-20 men; 6km U-20 women, and 10km senior women.