Chelimo, Chebet lead Kenya hunt as cross country season start in Spain

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-08 19:28:41|Editor: xuxin
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NAIROBI, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Margaret Chelimo and Beatrice Chebet leads a horde of distance runners from Kenya to Spain to launch their 2019-20 season at the IAAF Cross Country Permit in Burgos city on Saturday.

The Cross de Atapuerca meeting will be one of five stops in Spain, with the permit series alongside two stops in Italy before reaching its conclusion in the Portuguese city of Albufeira on March 15, 2020.

Most elite athletes will use it for endurance purposes ahead of the World Indoor Championships, which will be held in Nanjing, China from March 13-15 and the Tokyo Olympic Games.

"I want to boost my endurance and that is why it is important to start the season early in Spain and hope to run a few indoor meetings also in 3,000m. I have no confirmations for Nanjing, but I want to make the team to the Olympics," said Chebet on Friday.

Chebet, the World Cross Country Junior women champion, will be up against Ethiopia's Senbere Teferi, Chelimo and Peruth Chemutai of Uganda.

"These races need the best talent for anyone to produce their best performances. I like the challenge and will be up there battling with them," added Chelimo, who was second to Teferi in the 2018 edition.

Teferi, already a three-time winner here, the 2015 world cross-country and 5,000m silver medalist, showed she was in great form two weeks ago in Valencia where she broke her own national half-marathon record with her 1:05:32 victory. Teferi is completing a solid 2019 season which also includes a sixth-place finish in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Doha. An accomplished track runner with personal best of 4:01.86 for 1,500m and 14:23.33 for 5,000m, Teferi's knowledge of the Burgos circuit should play in her favor.

But the same applies to Kenya's Margaret Chelimo, the runner-up over the past two years.

The 26-year-old Kenyan earned the 5,000m silver medal at the recent World Championships, improving her lifetime best to 14:27:49, and then won a low-key 4km race in the Italian city of Biella eight days later.

"I still feel I am strong since finishing second in Doha. Now the target is to improve on my speed and the indoor circuit and the cross country will help me attain that goal," Chelimo said.

The toughest opposition for Teferi could come from Kenya's world U20 cross-country and 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet, who holds a 14:46.12 performance for the distance, and Uganda's Peruth Chemutai, who finished fifth in the steeplechase at the World Championships.

Norah Tanui, the third-place finisher last year, will also be in contention. She is also the only woman this year to beat world record-holder and world champion Beatrice Chepkoech in the steeplechase.

Kenyan Gloria Kite and Eva Cherono should fight for a top-five spot. There is also Ethiopia's Zenebu Fikadu, 10th in Aarhus, and Bahrain's 2017 world marathon champion Rose Chelimo.