NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Over 600 athletes are expected to
compete at this year’s World Cross Country Championships, in
Kampala, Uganda on March 26.
Kenya will be fielding a
strong squad of 24 same as Eritrea, Ethiopia and hosts Uganda.
Both Kenya and Ethiopia have dominated cross-country and are
favourites when the event takes place in Kampala.
Kenya swept all the titles at 2014 Africa Cross-country in
Kololo and announced the arrival of new talents like Agnes Tirop,
who went on to win the World Cross Country event in Guiyang,
China and Leonard Barsoton.
"We are anticipating to have over 600 athletes from 54 member
federations to compete in Kampala, the highest number of
countries represented at the IAAF World Cross Country
Championships since 2009," said a statement from IAAF.
The World Cross Country Championships is the oldest of the
IAAF World Athletics Series competitions, this year’s event will
mark the 42nd staging of the global cross country championships.
It will also be the fifth time the championships will be
hosted by an Africa city after Rabat (Morocco) in 1975,
Stellenbosch in 1996 (South Africa), Marrakech (Morocco) in 1998
and Mombasa (Kenya) in 2007.
While Kampala is expected to add to that rich tradition that
now spans more than four decades, it will also add a new chapter
from the moment the gun sounds for the first race, which will be
the inaugural mixed relay.
The 8km race will be contested by teams composed of two men
and two women who will each run a 2km loop, in any order. The
runners will pass a wrist band that serves as the baton through
an exchange, or takeover zone, that’s 20m in length.
Adding to the anticipation of the pre-race build-up, the
team’s composition needn’t be declared until 11:30 on race
morning, less than three hours before the start.
The programme will then continue with the traditional races:
a 6km U20 women’s race, an 8km U20 men’s race, a senior women’s
10km and senior men’s 10km.
Notably, Kampala marks the first time that senior women will
race the same distance as the senior men.
Kenya has topped the medal tables at four of the past five
editions, but its rivalry with Ethiopia is expected to remain
The two nations split the four individual titles in 2015 at
two apiece, while Ethiopia captured 11 medals in all to Kenya’s
Host Uganda is also expected to wage a strong battle for both
individual and team crowns, with Eritrea and Bahrain also likely
to play key roles in several of the medal fights.
Others expected in the mix for team medals include Turkey,
the United States, Japan, and Great Britain & Northern Ireland.