After a strong Olympics debut where he finished 6th in the 10,000m and 8th in the 5,000m finals, Joshua Cheptegei will hope to emulate this performance off the track when the national cross country championships are held on Saturday at Kololo in Kampala.
Cheptegei will face several veterans of cross country championship running led by Moses Kipsiro, back to make up for last year’s dismal performance where he finished sixth. Cheptegei has already shown he is good off the track as well, winning a 15km road race in Netherlands in November.
Other than last year’s winner Phillip Kipyeko, the other top contender for a place on the Uganda team to be picked for the world meet after the event will be Timothy Toroitich, who had a great cross country season in 2016.
Toroitich finalized his preparations last year by by winning the 35th Cross Internacional de la Constitución (Alcobendas) on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain in November.
Toroitich’s victory in the second leg race of the 2016-17 IAAF Cross Country Permit series, was his second race win of the season and his fourth consecutive podium finish at this event.
For the Uganda athletics federation and the Local Organizing Committee, Saturday’s national cross country championships that start at 1pm will be a dress rehearsal for the world meet set for March 26 at the same venue. In fact, the Ugandan runners will have this trial on the same track to host the world championships.
13:30 Opening Ceremony
14:00 Mixed Relay Race
14:30 Junior Women Race
15:00 Awards for Mixed Relay
15:10 Junior Men Race
15:40 Awards for Junior Women
15:50 Senior Women
16:45 Awards for Junior Men
17:55 Senior Men
17:40 Awards for Senior Women
17:50 Awards for Senior Men
18:00 Mass Race
The Uganda People’s Defense Forces have for the past one month been working to remodel and mark the course for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017.
According to officials, Saturday’s national cross country event will be free entry for the spectators to give them a feel of what they will be expecting at the world event at the same venue.
Over 700 athletes from 80 countries are expected in Kampala to compete at the biennial event, which is the oldest event in the IAAF world series.
Uganda’s elite runners competing for places include long distance aces Stephen Kiprotich and Kipyeko. Olympians Ronald Musagala, Halimah Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo will be competing in the mixed relays. Juliet Chekwel is on the senior women’s team.
Last year, Kipyeko defended his title in the senior men’s 10km as two-time world cross-country medalist Kipsiro faded to sixth.The Uganda Police team are the defending club champions.
The last time an IAAF World Cross Country Championship event came to Africa was in Mombasa, Kenya in 2007.
Uganda cross country results last year
Senior men (10km)
1 Phillip Kipyeko 29:17
2 Mande Abdalla 29:27
3 Thomas Ayeko 29:30
4 Daniel Rotich 29:36
5 Moses Kurong 30:04
6 Moses Kipsiro 30:06