This is the second column by Justin Lagat on the World Cross Country Champs in Bathurst. In this column, Justin Lagat asks outloud what will the results be of the 50th World Cross Country Champs?
1. Will Jacob Kiplimo become the next big star to beat in the 5,000m and 10,000m distances?
After winning the world cross country U20 title in 2017, to running the new world record of 57:31 for the half marathon in November 2021, Kiplimo has quickly transformed into a big star to watch both on the roads and in the distance track events. He followed his 2022 world bronze medal with two gold medals in the 10,000m and 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The 22-year-old has started the year well with a world cross-country title and remains the star to beat in the upcoming distance track competitions, especially at the Budapest World Championships.
2. Will there be a rematch between Letensebet Gidey and Beatrice Chebet on the track this year?
The expected duel between Gidey and Chebet in the senior women’s race did materialize. Gidey pushed herself too much, stumbled, and fell with less than 20m to the finish line as Chebet ran past her to win the world title.
Not only the fans but perhaps the two runners are also eager to find out who is the stronger one between them in a race where no one gets to fall.
3. Could Emmanuel Wanyonyi try the 1500m event as well?
From the Athletics Kenya cross country meets, to the Kenyan trials and up to the world cross country championships, Wanyonyi has been so impressive in the 2km distance, which is more than double the distance covered in his special event.
The 2021 world U20 800m champion may find this a sign that he should try the 1500m track event, which is much closer to the 2km.
4. Will Jessica Hull of Australia be a big star to watch in the middle-distance races in the Diamond League series?
Jessica Hull, who holds the Australian records of 3:58.81 for the 1500m, 8:39.79 for the 3000m, and 14:43.80 for the 5000m, was arguably the star of the mixed relay, having overtaken South Africa’s Prudence Sekgodiso and Kenya’s Miriam Cherop to put her national team on the lead on the second leg of the 4 x 2km mixed relay –where she ran 5:47.
In the end, Australia won the bronze medal. It will be interesting to see what the Aussies will do with the motivation she got from that performance on home soil.
5. Will the 10,000m draught for Kenyan men continue past the Budapest World Championships?
Geoffrey Kamworor was the best-placed Kenyan in the senior men’s 10K race in fourth position. He was the only one in the leading pack of the four medal contenders in the last lap of the race. However, he will be running the London Marathon in April, and the cross-country training will probably help him run well there, although the recovery time after the marathon will affect his track season preparations. He may not get enough time to be back in form for the 10,000m event ahead of the World Championships in August.
But, the fact that Kenyan men followed in 5-6-7 positions and that Stanley Waithaka Mburu, the 2022 World silver medalist for the 10,000m event, was not in the race provides some hope for the Kenyan fans.