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Edward Zakayo, Rhonex Kipruto set for 5am battle in Samburu

For the first time, Samburu will be hosting the North Rift Athletics Kenya regional Cross country championships in one of the earliest ever cross country meeting in Kenyan history as world under 20 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo and his counterpart world under 20 10,000m champion Rhonex Kipruto will renew their rivalry on Saturday next week.

With the championships set to be hosted at Maralal Sports ground, in the Arid and Semi-arid land (ASAL) the weather is too hot weather, officials led by North Rift public Relations officer Boniface Tiren decided that the championships should be competed at 5am in the championships where athletes from five counties will be yearning for the title ahead of national cross country championships cum national trials in Eldoret ahead of world cross country championships to be held in Aarhus, Denmark.

Rhonex Kipruto’s car he won. Photo Alington Simwa

Coming from Elgeyo Marakwet County, Zakayo and Kipruto will be the star highlight of the event as they will face other athletes from four counties of Trans Nzoia, West Pokot Turkana and hosts Samburu.

On Sunday, the two prodigies faced off at Discovery Kenya cross country championships at Eldoret Sports Club with Kipruto winning the race ahead of Zakayo.

Kirptuo, who missed 10km road race world record during Birell Grand Prix with two seconds (26:46) with the world record set by Patrick Leonard Komon at 26:44 during 2010 Utrecht race, said his focus is to win national title and compete in senior cross country meeting in March.

“I have set my focus to compete at the North Rift championships to enable me make the cut into the Kenya team for the world showpiece,” said Kipruto.

Coached by legendary brother Colm O’Connell, Kipruto missed county championships while he was on European assignments but he was awarded a card to compete at the regional championships.  

Reigning Commonwealth Games 5,000m bronze medalist Zakayo won Elgeyo Marakwet title a week ago was optimistic to top the regional champions to book for national trials slot.

“I know Kipruto and others will give me a total challenge but that will not stop me from taking top position. I have tuned myself for the world cross country meeting,” added the Africa 5,000m champion.

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