Tergat warns Kenyans of tough course in Bydgoszcz

Kenyan Paul Tergat celebrates on the podium in Lisbon on September 28, 2008. By Francisco Leong (AFP/File)

Kenyan Paul Tergat celebrates on the podium in Lisbon on September 28, 2008. By Francisco Leong (AFP/File)

NAIROBI (AFP) – Former world cross country champion Paul Tergat warned that the new Bydgoszcz course, coupled with chilly conditions, will be a challenging test for the athletes during next month’s world cross championships in the Polish town.

Tergat, who won the world title title five times between 1995-99, said a new hilly obstacle that has been added to the course would provide the biggest test for competitors, especially the Kenyans, who are out to win all four individual titles to repeat of their success when the event was held in the same city three years ago.

“The course will be very challenging. Unlike 2010 when it was flat, they have added a natural hill which will be challenging for the sportsmen, which makes it a real cross country course,” said Tergat, who made a visit to Bydgoszcz to promote the championships as an IAAF ambassador last week.

“The weather will be slightly slippery and the wintry conditions will also be equally a challenge for the competitors.”

Tergat was speaking after Kenya selected a relatively young team for the world championships on March 24 after the national trials at the Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens grounds on Saturday.

The team will be led by world junior defending champion Geoffrey Kipsang, who did not take part in the trials but was handed a wildcard by the selectors, having run and won the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

In his absence, newcomer Philemon Rono outclassed a strong field to win the men’s race in a time of 35:21.5 and make the Kenya team for the worlds for the first time.

“I realised I had more enough left at the finish than my opponents and I took my opportunity,” said Rono, who pipped the two-time Kenya Prisons champion, Timothy Kiptoo into second place.

Margaret Wangare won the women’s race and will lead the team to the world championships in the absence of regular campaigners Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai, who will be missing from the line-up in Bydgoszcz.