World record holders, marathon winners and Olympic medallists to headline cross-country race

Letesenbet Gidey and Geoffrey Kamworor will pay tribute to Agnes Tirop this week as they take part in the Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour on February 12 in Eldoret, Kenya.

Gidey had a memorable 2021 after running world records in both the women’s half-marathon and 10,000m plus claimed Olympic 10,000m bronze in Tokyo. The 23-year-old Ethiopian has won five gold medals at the World Cross Country Championships, four of which were at junior level, and is also a world 10,000m silver medallist.

Kamworor’s CV is equally as impressive with the 29-year-old Kenyan a three-time world cross country champion, three-time world half-marathon champion and a two-time New York Marathon winner.

Tirop, who was stabbed to death last October, was a world cross country champion herself and also won two world 10,000m bronze medals in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

At the time of her death, the Kenyan also held the women’s only world record for the 10km.

The fact that such a high calibre of athletes are taking part in the Agnes Tirop Cross Country Classic speaks of the volumes of how Tirop was thought of on the athletics circuit.

Eliud Kipchoge, who is the men’s world record holder in the marathon and originates from Eldoret, told World Athletics: “It is sad to be naming races after young runners who would still be running them.

“It would be understandable if it were an accident or an illness,” the two-time Olympic champion added. “If we want to change Kenya, we don’t have to be leaders holding any office, because if we don’t hold any offices, we have families to lead. We need to have values that reflect us.”

For those in the Kenyan athletics sphere, such an event is key to raining awareness about the issue of violence against women.

Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei told World Athletics: “We have already saved two women so far who were in a similar situation to Agnes, and are now in the process of finalising and working on the report we gathered from the consultative meetings with athletes across the country.”

A minute’s silence will take place before this weekend’s event begins.

According to World Athletics, the course will feature hay, logs, hills and water sprays to help keep the athletes on their toes as they compete.

The event is the fifth race of the year on the World Athletics Cross Country Gold Tour, with races having already taken place in Spain, Great Britain and Italy.

The remaining races of the tour take place in Belgium on February 20, Portugal on February 27 and Spain on March 6.

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