Mercy Chelangat braces up to face familiar foes at Cross Champs in the US

Alabama Athletics

ATHLETICS Mercy Chelangat braces up to face familiar foes at Cross Champs in the US

Abigael Wafula 05:30 - 30.11.2023

Mercy Chelangat will be lining up against a strong field as she gears up for the Cross Champs in Austin, Texas, on Thursday.

Mercy Chelangat will face off against a strong field as she seeks to make a mark at the Cross Champs – the only US-based Gold Stage of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour – in Austin, Texas, on Thursday.

Chelangat has won National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles over 10,000m (2022) and at cross country (2020). She recently made her half marathon debut, clocking 1:11:37 in Boston earlier this month.

She will be renewing her rivalry with the US cross-country champion Ednah Kurgat who will mean business as she vies to improve her third-place finish from last year.

Kurgat’s last cross-country race was at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, where she placed 18th in the senior women’s race.

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She went on to enjoy a strong track campaign in 2023, setting personal bests (PB) in 5000m and 10,000m, and taking bronze in the latter distance at the Pan-American Games.

Meanwhile, Mahelet Mulugeta of Ethiopia has moved up in distance in recent years and should be competitive on Thursday.

In the men’s race, Wesley Kiptoo, Olin Hacker, and Adriaan Wildschutt will also return to Austin where they will face a stern test.

Kiptoo and Hacker were separated by just two seconds in the men’s race in Austin last year, finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Both will be targeting podium places on Thursday.

Kiptoo, the 2021 NCAA indoor 5000m champion, made his marathon debut in Chicago last month, finishing 12th in 2:10:28. Earlier this year, he clocked a PB of 1:00:35 when finishing second at the Houston Half Marathon.

South Africa’s Adriaan Wildschutt will also be difficult to beat. This year he has set national records at 3000m (7:39.25), 5000m (13:02.46), and 10,000m (27:23.10), and placed 14th in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Budapest.

Other contenders include Kenya’s 2018 NCAA 10,000m silver medallist Vincent Kiprop, and USA’s Pan-American 1500m bronze medallist Casey Comber.