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Challenging course awaits 550 athletes in Kampala

Kololo Grounds IAAF World Cross Country tought course.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 25 – A challenging course that has a ditch among other obstacles await 550 athletes ahead of Sunday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships at the Kololo Grounds in Kampala, but that does not deter the focus of three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop who goes head-to-head with Ethiopian star Genzebe Dibaba in the mixed relays.

Team Kenya is familiar with the course that hosted the 2014 African Cross Country Championships although it did not have such obstacles as well as Kiprop who is returning to the World Cross for the first time in 10 years.

“When the IAAF introduced the mixed relay, I must say thank you. This is what brought me back to cross country. It’s a new experience and is going to be very interesting because it will be my first time to pass the baton to a woman. This race, and the World Relays, is all also an important part of the build-up towards London,” Kiprop who last competed at the 2007 World Cross in Mombasa, Kenya added.

2017 IAAF World Cross Country course at Kololo Grounds.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

He’s also pleased that like in 2007, he didn’t have to travel too far.

“Having the world come to East Africa, I feel proud to come to these championships as an athlete.”

Faith Kipyegon, reigning Olympic 1500m champion and two-time winner at these championships in the junior ranks, is part of a strong Kenyan squad who have also arrived in the Ugandan capital with lofty ambitions.

1500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“I think we have trained well and I think we will do well. I think we are strong. And I’m ready,” said Kipyegon.

It was a busy evening for the Local Organising Committee who were racing against time to ensure everything was set since the guest of honor will be Uganda President Yoweri Museveni.

Technicians from the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation were also not left behind as they were on ground testing their crane to ensure crystal clear pictures are televised live all over the world.

Team Great Britain having a feeling of the course.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Teams were also on ground for their final training except Team Kenya who had training at 10:30am after the heavens had opened early morning.

Team Kenya officials led by Athletics Kenya vice-president Paul Mutwii and team manager Evans Bosire had the opportunity to tour the course and one could see how they were surprised by the challenging route especially the trench that is steep.

The last to inspect the course was IAAF President Sebastian Coe accompanied by his secretary Hellen Delany and the prince of Monaco and he was pleased with the preparations.

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iaaf president Sebastian Coe Hellen Delany and Prince Monaco tours Kololo Airstrip.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The venue is expected to flock if the crowd that turned up to watch the final preparations on the eve of the event shows up as the Ugandan government assured security which was evident by the deployment of the Army to man the main entrance gate.

The course is located at Kololo Independence Grounds, approximately three kilometres from the city centre. It hosted the 2014 African Cross Country Championships and, more recently, the Ugandan Cross Country Championships in January.

The two-kilometre loop is mostly covered in grass and has an average elevation of about seven metres. In addition to the two natural hills, a man-made hill, a ditch and other obstacles have been added to make the course more challenging.

Selfie Moment at Kololo Grounds.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya


13:30 opening ceremony

14:00 Mixed Relay (2men+2women runing one loop each in any order)

14:30 Women U20

15:00 Medal Ceremony Mixed Relay

15:10 Men U20

15:40 Medal Ceremony Women U20

15:55 Senior Women

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16:40 Medal Ceremony Men U20

16:55 Senior Men

17:30 Medal Ceremony Senior Women

17:45 Medal Ceremony Senior Men

1800: Mass race

Alex Isaboke is reporting from Kampala, Uganda


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