Will early track and field season affect athletes’ preps for 2023/2024 season?

NAIROBI, Kenya, October 31 – Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jackson Tuwei has moved to allay fears that the federation’s calendar of activities for 2023/24 season will inconvenience many athletes who have traditionally used the cross country series to prepare for track and field.

Tuwei said athletes can still make the most of the cross country season to prepare well so long as they plan themselves accordingly in line with the calendar.

“No, not really…Normally our cross country season starts very early. I know it has come much earlier this year but remember the World Cross Country Championships is next year on 30th March (in Belgrade, Serbia). So, they would still continue with the cross country…with the track and field as they prepare for the championships and I believe it will give them more chances and more time to plan for the new season,” Tuwei said.

As per AK’s calendar of activities for 2023/24, the track and field weekend meetings have been brought forward to December this year, with Kisumu expected to hold the first leg of the series on December 1.

This is unlike the yesteryears when the track and field season commences in late February or early March — at the conclusion of the cross country season.

While announcing the change in their calendar, the federation said the decision was informed by the plethora of competitions in 2024, including the All Africa Games in March (Accra, Ghana) and the Olympic Games in July (Paris).

Tuwei further reminded the athletics fraternity to be mindful of the quadrennial games in Paris even as they plan their calendar.

“So, the most important thing is for the coaches, athletes and their managers to plan well. Remember, we also have the Paris Olympics next year,” he said.

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Also on the president’s mind was Kenya’s recent successes in road races, particularly, 23-year-old Kelvin Kiptum’s world record set at the Chicago Marathon early this month.

He spoke of the importance of organising as many local marathons as possible to provide budding road runners with opportunities to lay a foundation for future success.

“That’s why we need more of such marathons so that we can give as many of our upcoming marathoners to come and compete in a place like this. We also want to encourage other cities who have wanted to organise road races so that they can give upcoming runners to opportunities to compete so they can go out there and run in the major marathons,” Tuwei said.

He added: “It is good beginning…it is a good time to test yourself and get some experience.”

Tuwei was speaking on the sidelines of Sunday’s StanChart Marathon at the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi.

He congratulated the organisers for growing the annual road race to its 20th edition in addition to attracting record participants.

“We are very happy it is growing and up to now, you can see the number of competitors who registered. They even had to close the registration as per the deadline because they could not go beyond that. You can see the interest and the way it has been organised, it is very successful,” Tuwei pointed out.

This year’s edition attracted approximately 22,000 participants who competed across the five different categories of competition — 42km, 21km, 10km, wheelchair run and 5km fun run.

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