Two weeks to go before the 30th Kenya National Cross Country Championship, that will be held in Nairobi on February 16th.
(Note: Geoffrey Mutai & Geoffrey Kipsang will not run the Nationals XC as they will be running RAK Half Marathon on February 15)
And this year again, it should be a hot contested show with a galaxy of stars, especially with the World XC Championship on the horizon.
Here is a little preview of the event with all the top contenders.
MEN 12K – 12 HUNGRY MEN THAT CAN WIN:
– Bidan KAROKI: The Defending Champion who was healing an harmstring injury in December back in Japan after a solid winter, seems to have recovered well with a second place at last week Discovery XC and will be back to defend his title.
– Kenneth KIPKEMOI: Africa 10000m Champion, had a huge breakthrough season in 2012 (National 10000m Champion, 26:52.65 10000m PB, 59:11 for Half Marathon). Kipkemoi launched his XC season perfectly, taking the victory at the first XC meet of the year at the Eldoret Educational Center. Starting his preparations early for the Nationals (viewing to make the team for the World Championship), he decided to skip the AK series to focus on training in Kaptagat, only to run one race in Europe (second at Venta de Banos) and Baringo Half Marathon (third place) and intensify his training before heading to his first real test at the Discovery XC that he won in a class of his own.
– Gideon KIPKETER: Was 2012 National Schools XC Champ. Ran 59:53 for Half Marathon in September and made his debut for marathon (2:08) in October. Won Tusky Wareng Cross Country in November. Has not run since but could be a good surprise.
– John KIPKOECH: Won Biggest XC race in France in January, in November was third at Soria XC in Spain and third at Embu XC. Was nine at National last year.
– Geoffrey KIPSANG: Big favourite after his victory at the Police XC Champ with a 54sec margin over marathoner Geoffrey Mutai. In addition to his impressive performance, it was Kipsang’s first competition since September (his marathon debut in Berlin). Kipsang was 7th last year.
– Timothy KIPTOO: For the last two years Kiptoo seems to get in shape at the right time. Two Time Kenya Prisons XC Champion, AK Series Jackpot Winner, Runner-up at National XC last year, 4th at Africa XC & Bronze medallist at Africa Champ over 5000m. Contrary to last year he only ran once this winter at the Kisii leg where he ended up seventh Before defending his Prisons Title with class.
– Clement LANGAT: The African XC Champion is cleary focused on making the team to world championship this year as he is getting ready for “real action” at the Nationals. He was second in December at the Tusky Wareng XC.
– Hosea MACHARINYANG: AK series Jackpot winner (winning in Kapsokwony, runner-up in Nyahururu, Embu & Kericho), XC specialist. Will be looking for his 8th appearance in the National XC team (2 Times in the Juniors & 5 Times in the Seniors ranks)
– Peter MATELONG: Brother to steeplechase specialist Richard. Has been dominant during the AK XC series this winter with two big wins in Nyahururu & Embu. Was Armed Forced runner-up.
– Geoffrey MUTAI: Still building and preparing for “something big” in London, The World Major Marathon winner started his XC season with the Kericho leg were he led almost all the race just to get beaten in a sprint finish by John Mwangangi & Hosea Macharinyang. He was second at the Police XC Champ last weekend behind Geoffrey Kipsang.
– John MWANGANGI: Has been racing a lot this past few weeks with a third place at the World Half Marathon Champ and a lot of wins on the local circuit (1st at Imenti 15K, 5th at Machakos XC, 4th in Embu, then winning Kericho in front of a worldclass field). He also went to win the Santa Pola HM on January 20th before ending 8th at the National Prisons XC 6 days later. With 15 days to go, it looks like it’s enough to recover well and get ready for the big show.
– Leonard OLOITIPTIP: Armed Forces XC Champion. Was a big promising talent a few years ago, on the way to get back at the top.
12 Dark Horses: Emmanuel Bett, Vincent Chepkok, Joseph Ebuya, Dennis Kimetto, Wilson Kiprop, Mark Kiptoo, Isiah Koech, Julius Kogo, Philemon Limo, Martin Mathathi, Fredrick Musyoki, Paul Tanui.
RUNAFRICA « TOP 6″ PREDICTION (Note: Geoffrey Mutai & Geoffrey Kipsang will not run the Nationals XC as they will be running RAK Half Marathon on February 15)
1. Kenneth KIPKEMOI
2. Clement LANGAT
3. Hosea MACHARINYANG
4. Bidan KAROKI
5. Timothy KIPTOO
6. John KIPKOECH