World Athletics Cross Country Championships: Preview And How To Watch

Stacked men's and women's fields set the stage for the most gripping races in the event's history.

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This weekend, the world’s best runners will gather in Belgrade, Serbia, for the 2024 World Athletics Cross Country Championships.

We’ve got everything you need to know about the event, the storylines to watch for, and how to tune in.

World Athletics Cross Country Championships: Preview And How To Watch 1

Preview of the Senior Women’s Race: Defending Champion Chebet Faces Strong Competition

The women’s race at this year’s World XC Championships is set to be one of the most thrilling in the race’s history. The Kenyan women have dominated the senior women’s titles at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships since 2009, making them the team to beat at Belgrade 24.

Beatrice Chebet, the reigning world cross-country champion, faced a setback at the recent Kenyan Cross Country Championships, finishing fourth. However, with victories in Bathurst and Riga and a string of impressive performances on the track, including a 5k road world record just a few months ago, Chebet is coming in as the one to beat.

However, it won’t be an easy feat for Chebet to claim back-to-back titles.

Agnes Ngetich, another Kenyan athlete, comes to Belgrade with confidence. A bronze medalist in Bathurst last year and a recent world record in the 10km, Ngetich is in stellar form. She recently clinched victory at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, setting the stage for a strong showing in Serbia.

Kenya’s dream team doesn’t stop at these two top contenders.

Emmaculate Anyango, also from Kenya, has shown consistent improvement, clocking impressive times in Valencia. With a second-place finish behind Ngetich in Valencia, she’s a rising star to watch out for in Belgrade.

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The Kenyan team also boasts Lilian Kasait Rengeruk and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, both medalists at the World Road Running Championships. With Cintia Chepngeno rounding out the team, Kenya clearly has their eyes on the prize.

Ethiopia will be Kenya’s toughest competitor, with the likes of Girmawit Gebrzihair and Tadelech Bekele leading their squad. While relatively inexperienced at the senior level, Gebrzihair and Bekele bring impressive credentials to the table.

Uganda’s Rachael Zena Chebet shouldn’t be discounted. She will aim to lead her team to success after securing fourth place in 2019. 

Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, a seasoned cross-country runner, is also eyeing a strong performance after dominating early season competitions, including her most recent victory at the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon.

Francine Niyomukunzi of Burundi and Weini Kelati of the USA, a rising crowd favorite, are other athletes to watch out for, along with athletes from Great Britain, South Africa, Canada, and Spain.

With Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda likely to dominate, other nations aim to challenge for team medals, promising an exciting women’s competition at Belgrade 24.

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Preview of the Senior Men’s Race: Uganda’s Kiplimo Aims for Title Defense

The men’s race promises a thrilling showdown as the top three finishers from last year’s edition gear up to battle it out once again. 

Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo is set to defend his title, but he will face some stiff competition, including 2023 runner-up Berihu Aregawi and 2023 bronze medalist and 2019 winner Joshua Cheptegei, a three-time world 10,000m champion.

The lineup also features Kenya’s Sabastian Sawe, the World Half-Marathon Champion, who also recently won the Kenyan Cross Country Championships.

Uganda has enjoyed back-to-back senior men’s titles through Kiplimo and Cheptegei, aiming for a historic hat-trick. Alongside Kiplimo and Cheptegei, the Ugandan team includes Martin Kiprotich and Dan Kibet, both strong contenders in their own right.

Kiplimo, who clinched Uganda’s first-ever World Cross Country gold medal in the junior race in 2017, took the gold in the senior race in 2023 and will be looking to double up this year. 

Cheptegei, fresh from an impressive 10km run in Laredo, seeks to reclaim the senior title he secured in 2019. 

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Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi, the 5K world record holder and second-fastest man in history over 10K, eyes becoming the first Ethiopian winner since 2011. With a strong lineup, including Dinkalem Ayele and Chimdessa Debele, Ethiopia aims to take the team title for the first time since 2017.

Kenya, shockingly missing out on individual medals last year, boasts a strong lineup led by Sawe. Ishmael Kipkurui, Nicholas Kipkorir, and rising stars Benson Kiplangat and Gideon Kipkertich Rono add to the team’s medal hopes.

Spain’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo, currently ranked third in the Cross Country Tour standings, is a dark horse to watch, while Eritrea’s Merhawi Mebrahtu and Aron Kifle bring experience to their respective teams.

The Burundian team, led by Celestin Ndikumana, seeks to improve on past performances, while the US team, featuring Anthony Rotich and Emmanuel Bor, aims for a strong showing.

Australia’s Patrick Tiernan and Britain’s Will Barnicoat lead their respective teams, and will be hoping for an upset.

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Schedule Of Events And How To Watch

The World Cross Country Championships will offer a free live stream to all the races on Saturday, March 30, 20204, through World Athletics.

You can watch the live stream via World Athletics here.

Live broadcasts will also be available in a number of countries around the world. 

Schedule of Events: Central European/Eastern Standard Time

  • 11:00/7:00 Women U20 race final (6km)
  • 11:35/7:35 Men U20 race final (8km)
  • 12:15/8:15 Mixed relay final (4x2km)
  • 12:45/8:45 Women senior race final (10km)
  • 13:30/9:30 Men’s senior race final (10km)
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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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