NAIROBI, Kenya, March 19- Having never medalled at the World Cross on her previous two outings, Margaret Wangare Muriuki is more than ever determined to scale the heights of the third time lucky cliché on Sunday when the starter’s gun goes off for the women’s 8km senior race.
And it will all be for her dear mama… want to know why? Read on…
The 26 year-old finished eighth on her debut in Edinburgh in 2008 and returned to the competition two years later in Bydgoszcz where a sixth finish saw her count among the quartet that bagged the team title.
Wangare then missed the last edition in Punta Umbria but has bounced back to win silver at last year’s Africa Cross Country Championships in South Africa.
Having emerged winner from an imposing field during the February 16 AK/KCB National Cross Country Championships in her event, Muriuki has history favouring her on her medal mission as she returns to Poland.
Florence Kiplagat (2009) and Vivian Cheruiyot (2011) left Kenya as domestic champions and duly returned home World Cross queens with Linet Masai (2010) winning three successive silver medals at the pristine global distance running attraction.
“I have trained enough for this event and having competed in Poland is an advantage. Together with Emily (Chebet) we have been telling our team mates on what to expect. To compete for Kenya thrice is not ordinary; it is all through the grace of God.
“We are praying that we can retain the title we have held since Amman. Even though the competition will be tough, we will go there seeking to compete for our nation,” she added.
Having blown away the field during the Nationals, Wangare who is among the five athletes in the Kenyan team for Bydgoszcz with prior World Cross experience was installed as the captain of the team.
“This does not give me any pressure at all since I have been involved in the national team. Being a captain gives me the chance to mentor others who have not had the chance to be in the team as well as work harder to lead by example,” she told on her added responsibility.
“Although I did not get a medal in Poland, I had a good race. That day, it was not my time to win a medal since when you go to an event like the World Cross, you always target a medal.
“I did not train to the level I have trained for this one and that is why my body could not respond as well,” she explained.
Her journey back to Poland has been fraught by injury and tragedy.
“In November 2010, I was involved in an accident while being driven to the airport for a race. Although I was not injured, I started suffering from ulcers due to the shock. This made me miss the Trials for Punta Umbria,” she disclosed.
The incident saw her miss the Trials for the Punta Umbria World Cross where, “I watched the race from the crown since I was still under treatment.”
After missing out on the London Olympics after finishing fourth at the 1500m Trials, she raced 36:54 to win the prestigious Falmouth 10K Road Race in Massachusetts in August.
“The only reason I have failed to make the national team on track is lack of qualifying time in my preferred 1500m race. My manager enters me in 5000m races but I will review our agreement with him after competing in Poland.
“Winning the big race in the US as others ran in the Olympics made me feel that I had also represented my country with success and that was my highlight of last year,” she told.
The fact that she was able to put together a winning run during the Trials is in itself a minor miracle.
During the race, her mother lay stricken in a hospital having been admitted weeks before which forced her daughter to cut down on her training to cater for her.
“Thankfully, she is fully recovered now and due to the effort we made as a family to take care for her, she has been praying for me to win a medal and we are about to find out whether her players will be answered,” the Kenya Police runner offered with her voice trailing due to the hardship she endured at the time.
“Should I be successful, I will dedicate it to her and I’m sure it will make her heal even more,” Wangare outlined.