Overcast conditions, a steady chill and occasional drizzling met the runners who did not waste time in going for their morning training hours after arrival at the scenic Guanshanhu Park, the sprawling nature trail with a lake in the middle surrounding the Jinyang Nations Square in Xiaowangtiai.
“We have come here to China to give it our best shot. As a captain, I’m ready to give my all in my race since in 2011, I won as a junior and now, I’m going to give it a go as a senior.
“We are used to this kind of weather and I don’t see it being a problem. It’s a good thing everyone will run under this weather. Everyone competing here is ready and we are also ready,” team captain and 2011 World Cross Junior champion, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor said after their session.
Two-time World Cross senior women champion, Emily Chebet, who is going for a hat-trick stressed she’s under no pressure to execute a podium performance since she has come to China as part of her team.
“I’m happy to be here in China and getting a chance to run at my third World Cross. I’m not thinking of winning or medals since I’m here as part of a team.
“We are here to work together since Cross Country running is all about team work and whatever happens at the end, we will all be happy to know we worked for each other, not as individuals,” the 2010 and 13 champion, both in Bydgoszcz, Poland added.
“I love running the World Cross and the Chinese have given us a good welcome, that is what is more important to me, not titles. I thank Athletics Kenya for giving me a chance to be here,” Chebet, who is poised to join the hallowed class of three-time winners, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba (long course) and Edith Masai (short course) said on prospects of winning the World Cross outside Poland.
“The cold and wet conditions are not a threat, we had them in Poland and in training we factored in whatever weather we shall meet. At the end of the day, it will all be decided on the course,” she said of the chilly blanket that welcomed them to Guiyang.
At the same time, team management has barred Athletes’ Representatives from accessing their clients at the official team hotel until Saturday evening after the showdown.
This, the officials said, was to help the runners focus on the task at hand where Kenya is the main attraction for an established winning tradition at the now biennial event.
“We have seen some managers come here to organise races and this distracts their focus since we are here to represent our country. Some could even advise their runners to run against what the coaches have instructed them,” a team official who sought anonymity disclosed.
Kenya is among the 51 nations who have arrived in the blooming Chinese lakeside city reputed to be the rainiest in the country to vie for individual and team honours in the showcase collection of multiple discipline distance runners.
-Mutwiri Mutuota reporting from Guiyang, China-