World Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and silver medallist Bedan Karoki renew their rivalry at the 26th Discovery Cross Country Championships due Sunday at Eldoret Sports Club.
The race organiser David Letting said the two great friends, who claimed the first two places at the 2016 World Half Marathon, have confirmed to him that they will compete in the renowned race.
Karoki, who is the defending champion is back in the country from his Japan base while Kamworor, has just recuperated from an injury and ready to start off his season.
Kamworor and World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop failed to finish last year’s race.
Kamworor was due to defend his Kenya Police Service Cross Country title last Saturday but shelved his appearance on doctor’s advice. “We have talked and he has assured me that he is good to go now,” said Letting.
Karoki, who has been training in Nyahururu upon returning to the country three weeks ago, is preparing for his marathon debut in London on April 26, this year. “I have fully acclimatised and I am ready to defend my Discovery title,” said Karoki, who has already opted out of the National Cross Country Championships due February 18.
Karoki said he wants to give other upcoming athletes a shot at the World Cross Country planned for March 26 in Kampala, Uganda.
After the Discovery Cross Country race, Karoki will turn his focus on Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon on February 10 in the UAE before consolidating his energies for the London Marathon.
Kamworor and Karoki met at the 2015 National Cross, where the two prevailed in that order, before posting similar results at the 2015 World Cross in Guiyang, China and 2016 World Half Marathon in Cardiff.
“I feel mentally and physically strong for full marathon and I should also double on track just as my good friend Geoffrey Kamworor, who has done it so smoothly,” explained Karoki.
Also in the men’s 10km race is Clement Lagat, who finished second last year and the 2015 Diamond League 3,000m steeplechase winner Jairus Birech.
The reigning World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop is set to battle the 2009 World Cross Country champion Florence Kiplagat and Olympic marathon champion Jemimah Sumgong in the women’s 10km race. The race is sponsored by Nike, Kenya Commercial Bank and Rosa and Associati.
Tirop is fresh from winning the Boclassic Sylvesterlauf 5km road race in Bolzano, Italy on New Year eve while Sumgong, finished second during the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Thursday last week.
Sumgong also won the St. Silvester road race in Sao Paulo on New Year’s Eve, her first race since victory at Rio Olympics.
Both Sumgong and Kiplagat are preparing for the London Marathon title where Sumgong will be defending her crown.
Before London, Kiplagat, who is the current World half marathon record holder, is preparing a return to Spain for Barcelona Half Marathon on February 12.
It’s in Barcelona where Kiplagat set the world half marathon record twice; in 2014 in 1:05:12 before improving it the following year to 1:05:09. Kiplagat, 2011 World Half Marathon champion has won Berlin Marathon twice in 2011 and 2013 besides Chicago Marathon in 2015 and 2016.