The Kenyan team will be one of 5 of the strongest countries in the world to compete at the CAA Africa Cross Country Championships on Sunday, 18 March in Cape Town when they defend their title.
With the absence of a World Cross Country Championships in 2012, the Africa Cross Country Championships will serve as the biggest event this year. Kenya also dominated the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain in March 2011 with African countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Eritrea finished 4th, just ahead of South Africa for their best ever team performance.
In 2011 Kenya’s team took the first 4 positions in the senior men’s race, the first 5 positions in the senior women while the junior men and women made a clean sweep of the first 6 positions. This year the Kenyan team will only send 4 athletes in each category to defend their title. This policy carries an element of risk as should a team member have to withdraw, Kenya they will not be eligible for the team prize as 4 athletes are required to finish. As a matter of tradition, Kenya organised trials to designate their representatives. Thus, no reigning African champion (both junior and senior) will be present in Cape Town on March 18
The senior men’s team consists of Frederick Ndunge, Timothy Kiptoo, Vincent Chepkok and Clement Langat while the senior women are Joyce Chepkirui, Margareta Muriuki, Emily Chebet and Esther Ndiema.
Vincent Chepkok is, on paper, the most experienced of the men’s team. Chepkok finished 3rd at the 2011 World Championship 3rd. 23 year-old Chepkok has represented his country in 5 cross country events this year alone including a 10km in San Giorgio (2nd), 12km races in Nakuru and Nairobi (finished 3rd), 10.7km in Amorebieta (2nd) and 10.8km in Sevilla where he finished 8th. At the end of February Chepkok also competed at the World’s Best San Juan 10km where he finished 2nd (28:11).
The 21 year-old Frederick Ndunge, a middle and long distance athlete, finished 4th at the Kenyan National Championships on 18 February while Timothy Kiptoo finished 2nd. Kiptoo specializes in distances such as 10km and half marathons; his personal best in the 10km of 27:45 run in Utrecht on 25 September 2011. His best half marathon time is 62:40 (Klazienveen, 28 May 2011). Clement Langat crossed the line 6th at the National Championships and has represented his country internationally at various track and field meetings in the 1500m and 5000m since 2009 where he has always finished within the top 7.
Joyce Chepkirui is an athlete with an outstanding track record since the start of her athletics career in 2007. She competed at a cross country event in Eldoret, Kenya (22 January), claiming victory and then proceeded to the National Championships on 18 February, winning the title. At the World’s Best San Juan
10km race (26 February) Chepkirui finished 2nd in 31.09.
Other women include Margaret Muriuki (2nd at the National Championships), Emily Chebet and Esther Ndiema. Chebet, the former 8km Cross Country World Champion (2010), finished 4th at the Kenyan National Championhips in February.
See junior athletes below:
The full list of teams entered are: South Africa, Kenya, Eritrea, Morocco, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Congo, Egypt, Uganda, Mauritius, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Sudan, Namibia, Swaziland, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe
The Africa Cross Country Championships will take place at the Western Province Cricket Club grounds in Keurboom Park.
10:00 Junior Women – 6km
10:30 Junior Men – 8km
11:10 Medal Ceremony – Juniors
11:30 Senior Women – 8km
12:10 Senior Men – 12km
12:50 Development Run Juniors – 4km