After stinging on track and cross country, Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda is now shifting his focus on the road. This weekend he will be spearheading the Ugandan team in the world half marathon.
The championship will be held in Gdynia, Poland on Saturday 17th, October. The championship was initially scheduled for March this year but due to the covid-19 pandemic, it had to be postponed. 62 teams which are composed of 157 men and 126 women are ready to chase the glory in Northern Polish city.
Making his debut in half marathon, Cheptegei will team up with last year's world cross country silver medalist Jacob Kiplimo. Both want to capitalize on the absence of reigning world half marathon champion Geoffry Kamworor. The Kenyan superstar is also the world record holder over the distance, Motorbike accident delayed his preparation to defend his title.
The duo of Ugandans had a spectacular performance on track this year. Cheptegei erased 5,000m and 10,000m world records running 12:35.36 and 26:11.00 respectively. Kiplimo ran a massive 12:48.63 in 5000m during the Ostrova diamond league and a few days later in Rome, he ran a world lead of 7:26.64 in 30000m. Moses Kibet, Stephen Kissa, and Abel Chebet complete the Ugandans men team, whereas Juliet Chekwel, Doreen Chesang, Rachael Chebet will lead the charge in the women side.
Kibiwot Kandie with a world lead of 58:58 has been tasked to lead in defending an individual title and perhaps to reclaim the team title won by the Ethiopian team in the last edition, Others include 2017 world cross country silver medalist Leonard Barsoton, Shadrack Kimining, and Victor chumo. The Women team is composed of Pauline Kamulu, Monica Wanjuhi, Brilliant Jepkorir, Dorcas Kimeli, and Dorcas Jepchirchir.
Hailemaryam Kiros and Netsanet Gudeta are the main protagonists in the Ethiopian team. Gudeta is the current world record holder of women only, in half marathon, While Kiros is the men's winner in 15km held to choose the Ethiopian team.
The focal point of the championship, however, will be how Joshua Cheptegei will handle his first debut in half marathon. Will it be ferocious just like in track and cross country, will the experience elude him?.
Those are some of the questions being asked. Unfortunately, some countries have opted out of the championship due to the coronavirus. Japan, USA, Australia, and New Zealand have canceled their participation.
The World half marathon championship was the only World Athletics series event in the global calendar in 2020