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Changes galore as AK launches Sirikwa cross country tour



Changes galore as AK launches Sirikwa cross country tour

A raft of changes have been made to the Sirikwa World Athletics Cross Country Gold Tour due for February 4 this year at Lobo Village, in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Besides adopting a new name “Sirikwa World Athletics Cross Country Gold Tour” replacing “Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour”, organisers have made charges to the two kilometres loop course.

The organisers have extended the cash rewards to the Under-18 boys’ and girls’ categories of this year’s event that is expected to draw over 10,000 fans.

The last year’s race was in honour of the late 2015 World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop, who was allegedly murdered by her husband in October 2021 in Iten. 

The mud obstacles that were placed midway the course have been done away with but instead the organisers have introduced the hurdles and trenches resembling those of steeplechase but without water.

The three hills that featured during the inaugural race last year have been retained alongside the hay challenge.

The tented canopy that featured last year has been retained but the organisers will fit in musical systems where runners will battle through as music is played.

The VIP tent has also been placed in a position where the guests will be able to follow the race comfortably without leaving the stage.

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei announced during the launch Friday at the Lobo Village that each of the Under-18 winners will be pocketing US$750 (Sh93,000).

The second and third placed finishers will be rewarded with $500 (Sh62,000) and $400 (Sh49,600) respectively in a prize structure that will cover top six finishers in the two categories.

The launch was attended by Uasin Gishu County governor Jonathan Bii, lead sponsor ABSA Bank regional manager Julius Songok, the race chief executive officer Barnaba Korir and National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) general secretary Francis Mutuku.

Nation Media Group are the media partners and the event shall be aired live on NTV and other platforms.

The prize structure for senior men and women’s 10km races have been upheld with each winner expected to go home $ 6,000 (Sh744,000) richer while the second and third placed athletes pocketing  $5,000 (Sh620,000) and $4,000 (Sh496,000).

The cash reward structure covers the top 15 finishers.

In the Under-20 category, winners will pocket US$1,250 (Sh155,000) with the first and second runners up going home with $1,000 (Sh124,000) and $800 (Sh99,200). Top 10 athletes will get cash rewards.

Tuwei said that Kenya was given another chance to host one of the 17 legs in the 2022/23 World Athletics Cross Country Gold Tour.

Tuwei said that last year’s event drew close to 7,000 fans and over 10,000 spectators are expected this year with Covid-19 restrictions having eased.

Bii said that they will continue supporting nurturing talents in the region because it is known to produce some of the best in the world of athletics.

“We shall help athletes to train well by providing the necessary infrastructure but they must shun away from using performance enhancing substances,” said  Bii.

He also asked the AK President to approach donors to help with the construction of at least four modern stadiums in conjunction with the government.

Songok, who announced their sponsorship of Sh2 million for the event, said that they are proud to associate with the local federation in making sure the event is organised as a world class event.

“We have been in good relationship with athletics and we are excited to support the Sirikwa Classic event because we have coined the term Africanacity,” said Songok.

Korir said that a number of athletes have shown interest in competing and the updated list will be provided to the media once the registration closes.

Mebrahtu Merhawi and Daniel Gebru both from Eritrea Millan De La Oliva Emil (Sweden), Mathayo Sombi Samhenda (Tanzania), Sondre Moen (Norway), Ezekiel Mutai (Uganda) are some of the international athletes who have confirmed their participation.

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