Junior men in action at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships (© Getty Images)
With 10 days to go until the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017, final entry figures suggest it will be the biggest edition of the championships since 2006.
An expected 557 athletes from 60 teams are set to compete in the Ugandan capital on 26 March, surpassing the figures from the past six editions.
Those figures include the four athletes who are set to represent an Athlete Refugee Team in the mixed relay. Guided by team leader Tegla Loroupe, the squad includes Olympian Paulo Amotun Lokoro, who was part of the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio last summer.
In total, 13 nations are set to contest the mixed relay, the latest innovation for the oldest IAAF World Athletics Series event. Each team comprises two men and two women, who will each run a two-kilometre circuit.
The IAAF Cross Country Permit series, spread across seven meetings from November 2016 to February 2017, has whetted the appetite for the forthcoming championships and many of the top performers on the circuit are set to compete in Kampala.
Aweke Ayalew, winner of the men’s races in Burgos and Seville, will be aiming to win Bahrain’s first individual medal at the World Cross, having earned a team bronze medal in 2015.
Senbere Teferei, also a winner in Burgos and Seville, will be joined on the Ethiopian team by Muktar Edris, winner of the Campaccio meeting earlier this year. Teenager Selemon Barega, who triumphed at the Cinque Mulini meeting at the end of January, is Ethiopia’s leading hope of a medal in the U20 men’s race.
Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich, who won convincingly in Alcobendas last November, will captain the host nation’s team, while Almond Blossom winner Irene Cheptai forms part of a strong Kenyan senior women’s squad.
Full race-by-race previews and entry lists will be published on the IAAF website next week.