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Stars set to clash at the Agnes Tirop Memorial X-Country in Eldoret

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Geoffrey Kamworor celebrates after winning the Kenyan Olympic trials

A stellar cast has been confirmed for the Agnes Tirop Memorial Cross Country which will be staged in Eldoret on Saturday. The race, named in honor of slain former World Record holder Tirop is one of the legs of the World Cross Country tour, the first time Kenya is hosting such.

Kenya had been given the rights to hold a leg of the Tour last year and befittingly, Athletics Kenya decided to name it in honor of Tirop whose gruesome murder last year sent shockwaves across the entire athletics world.

Tirop is herself a former winner of the World Cross Country Championship, having zoomed to victory in 2015 at the age of 19.

A star-studded line up, that includes three-time World Half Marathon Champion Geoffrey Kamworor has been included in the race.

Kamworor, who is also a two-time World Cross Country Champion will be competing for the first time since December where he raced at the Valencia Marathon in December, finishing fourth in a personal best time of 2:05:23. His last cross-country race, meanwhile, was the 2020 Kenyan Championships, where he finished second.

Kamworor will use the race as part of his speed and endurance enhancement as he prepares for the Boston Marathon.

“So far I have trained well and I feel ready for the challenge on Saturday,” Kamworor said ahead of the race.

Also confirmed for the race is 2016 Olympic Silver medalist Paul Chelimo who currently runs for the United States of America. Chelimo is also using the race to build up for upcoming assignments and he is seen as Kamworor’s biggest challenger for the title.

The two will compete for the crown alongside national 5000m champion Nicholas Kimeli, who finished fourth over 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics and fourth at the recent Kenyan Cross Country Championships.

Also lining up for the race is Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Edward Zakayo as well as Eritrean steeplechase record-holder Yemane Haileselassie, and multiple NCAA champion Edward Cheserek.

Meanwhile, the women’s field is also loaded with international talent. Senbere Teferi, the silver medallist behind Tirop at the 2015 World Cross, is among the entries for the women’s race.

Teferi Gidey

Senbere Teferi (right) with the late Tirop and compatriot Letsenebet Gidey during a past race

At the same event in Herzogenaurach where Tirop set a world 10km record last October, Teferi set a world 5km record of 14:29. Teferi has finished fourth in both of her recent cross-country outings, in Seville and Elgoibar, so will be keen to make it on to the podium in Eldoret.

Joyce Jepkemoi, who emerged as the surprise winner in the senior women’s race at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships on the same course last month, will be looking to bag another victory.

World 5000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, who finished second behind Jepkemoi in Eldoret last month, is also entered.

Other leading Kenyan runners expected to compete include world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, steeplechase specialist Celliphine Chespol, Lilian Kasait, Beatrice Chebet, Edinah Jebitok and 3,000m World Junior Champion Teresiah Muthoni.

Bahraini steeplechaser Winfred Yavi, the two-time Asian champion and fourth-place finisher at the 2019 World Championships, is also entered.

Helen Obiri had initially been touted to enter the race, but declined as she is currently preparing for the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on the 19th of this month.

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