World awaits rare middle distance race as Kenya parades some of its best running feet

Thursday, June 11th, 2020 00:00 |
Timothy Cheruiyot (right) trains with Timothy Sein (left) Elijah Manangoi (C) and Edwin Meli at Nyayo Stadium. Photo//FILE

Derek Otieno and World Athletics

The athletics world awaits a race like no other.  A track event run in two continents will highlight a new frontier for the athletics world.

One hour apart in Nairobi, Kenya  and Oslo, Norway, a rare middle-distance race will pit fastest Norwegians and Kenyans over the distance in an event that is expected to grip the imagination of an expectant athletics following legion.

Queries on weather, humidity and altitude will linger when the pedigree talent of Kenya’s top 1,500m man Timothy Cheruyiot is expected to run with a team in Nairobi. Norway’s fastest will be together at a stadium in Oslo. 

“We have just visited the Kenyan venue of the race. It is an interesting prospect and we are accommodating situations that are totally different. As you know, Norway is behind Kenya by an hour.

“It will be 9:50pm in Kenya and 8:50pm in Oslo and we have to appreciate that fact and this is a race that will involve a lot of co-ordination and high technological input.

It will be a good race,” Barnaba Korir, a top athletics official in the country said after visiting the Kasarani Stadium venue for the Kenyan runners.

Korir, an executive committee member and senior technical official within Athletics Kenya (AK) said the race will be run with full competition etiquette including technical officials from the federation. 

According to Korir, they have briefed the local track officials on what their role will be and what is required of them.

The two contingents will face off in a virtual 2,000m team event during the June 11 Impossible Games, the most significant track and field meet since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Organisers of the meet held in Oslo, typically part of the top-level Diamond League circuit, are billing the Norwegian team to include all three Ingebrigtsen brothers — Henrik (2012 European champion), Filip (2017 World bronze medalist), and Jakob (second-fastest in the world in 2019).

The Kenyan team is “Team Cheruiyot,” named after world champion Cheruiyot. World Athletics reported that the Kenyan team will include Cheruiyot, plus 2017 World champion Elijah Manangoi.

In the 2,000m competition, each team will have five runners. The winner will be the team with the best overall time for three runners, which sounds similar to long-track speed skating’s team pursuit.

Again, the Kenyans will be racing in Nairobi. The Norwegians at the historical Bislett stadium. A broadcast stream will be a split screen.

“This will be the first virtual race at such level in the history of athletics,” according to a press release.

Also, Therese Johaug, the reigning World Cup overall cross-country skiing champion, will run a 10,000m on the track, organisers announced Tuesday.

Also, in the Kenyan team was the current World 3000m steeplechase world champion Conseslus Kipruto and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon who won gold in their respective events.

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