More than 35 foreign athletes will line up in men and women’s 10km senior races in the second edition of Sirikwa Classic World Cross Country Gold Tour in Lobo Village, Eldoret.
The race, which was known as Memorial Agnes Tirop Classic World Cross Country Gold Tour, has been renamed Sirikwa Classic.
More than 600 athletes will battle it out in eight various events starting from 10am.
Among the international competitors is senior women’s 10km runner Belinda Chemutai from Uganda who is happy to get a chance to compete in Kenya.
She told Nation Sport that Kenyan runners have been an inspiration to her and she would like to test herself against them in an international race to gain more experience ahead of the new season.
“I’m happy I will be competing against big names like the 1,500m World and Olympics champion Faith Chepng’etich, which is an honour because I look up to her even after I changed to 5,000m races,” Chemutai said.
“She has set a good example to the women athletes and I will be glad to see how I perform against her in the event,” she said.
Chemutai has had good progression since the season started, finishing second in the 10km race of the 2023 MTN Kampala Marathon, and came third in Uganda’s Regional Cross Country Championships in Tororo.
She competed in the Ugandan trials to fight for a place in her country’s team for the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia. She finished in 14th in the trials.
She also represented her country in the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland in 2018, reaching the semi-finals.
Another international runner to look out for in the race is Kenyan-born Bahraini Rose Chelimo, who will use Saturday’s race to prepare for 2023 Rotterdam Marathon in April.
The Kapsabet-based Chelimo said she is longing to compete in the event to test herself against Kenyan athletes.
“I will compete in Rotterdam Marathon and since I have a few more weeks to train, I have decided to also test my body’s reaction here. Cross country events are good for build-up and endurance, and I want to finish in a good position,” said Chelimo.
Fosti Roman from Estonia is back in Kenya after competing last year against some of the best Kenyan athletes.
“This year I’m happy to be back in Kenya to compete in this leg and I just want to run well and finish the race because running with Kenyan athletes is not a joke. Last year was a nice experience. I want to run well this year as well,” said Fosti.
Ukraine’s Shafar Vitaliy wants to improve on his performance last year after having good preparations in his base in Switzerland.
“It always feels good competing against some of the best in the world, and the cross country event is exciting. I want to improve on my time this year and we just have to wait and see how things will unfold,” said Vitaliy.
The Lobo Village has been fitted with an air quality sensor which was launched last October by Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba.
According to Stockholm Environmental International Director Dr. Philip Osano, the air quality levels recorded at Lobo village between last October to January shows very good air quality meeting global standards set by the World Health Organisation.
“Athletes competing are assured that the races are being held in a venue with clean air,” said Osano.