Rungaru, Sitonik face-off in Nairobi Cross Country

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By AYUMBA AYODI
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Africa Cross Country champion John Rungaru and 2011 World Youth 3,000m gold medallist William Sitonik face-off at the Nairobi Region Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Ngong Road Posta grounds.

Rungaru, 23, who finished sixth at both the 2011 World Junior Cross Country and 2015 Africa Games Half Marathon, and Sitonik, have been in Japan where they represented their respective companies.

It will be interesting to see how the duo will handle the rich field that also has Moses Mukono and Andrew Lorot, who claimed a 1-2 finish in junior category during the 2014 Africa Cross Country Championships.

Mukono, who has been away from the sport for almost two years, made a return at Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series opening race in Nairobi in November where he finished sixth before coming in second during the second leg in Kajiado.

“My training has been smooth. I hope to win in Nairobi and take a shot at the national title,” Mukono said. “My desire is to win my maiden senior national title and hopefully do well at the World Cross.”

The National Cross Country Championships will be held on February 18 where Team Kenya will be selected for the World Cross Country Championships due March 26 in Kampala, Uganda.

The junior men’s 8km race is expected to be a tough battle with World Junior 5,000m bronze medallist Wesley Ledama taking on his brother Josphat alongside Sitonik and Lorot’s younger brothers Nicholas and Nickson Kiplagat respectively.

Junior women’s 6km race start-list is also awash with stars as World Youth 2,000m and World Junior 3,000m steeplechase champion Cellphine Chespol, World Youth 3,000m silver medallist Sandra Chebet and Jackline Jepkoech prepare for grueling action.

Chebet won in Nairobi before finishing second in Nyahururu and fourth in Sotik while Chespol finished sixth in Nairobi.

“We have got some of Kenya’s finest juniors and that is why we intend to uphold our dominance in the category at the Nationals,” said Nairobi region chairman Barnaba Korir.

Three other regions will be staging their cross country championships today. Central Region will host their event at Makuru Golf Club, the Universities take their battle to Njoro Campus while Kwale Girls Secondary School will be the venue for Mombasa Region competition.

Those to watch out for in Mombasa are defending champions Lameck Mwakio (senior men) and Magdaline Wakio (senior women).

John Maina, Cyrus Laikong, Paul Kamai and James Mwangi are among the star-attractions in senior men’s race in Central while Anne Karindi, who represented Kenya the 2009 World Cross, and Susan Wairimu are favourites in the women’s race.

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