Published 13 Feb 2023

It's almost time for a selection of NN Running Team-athletes to travel down under to Australia for the World Athletics Cross Country Championships. In this article we provide some background on these championships and on our athletes who will be taking part.

What is the World Athletics Cross Country Championships?

First staged in 1973 the World Athletics Cross Country Championships is historically regarded as one of the elite endurance running prizes in sport. Bringing together runners who excel over different distances and on different surfaces the event represents an opportunity to reign supreme as the global king or queen of the endurance running scene.

Where is the 2023 event to be held?

For the first time in the 50-year-old history of the event, Australia will stage a World Athletics Cross Country Championships. Hosted at the Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, New South Wales – the venue is known as the spiritual home of Australian motorsport.

Tell me more about the event?

Five races will be held as part of the World Athletics Cross Country Bathurst 23 on Saturday 18th of February. A senior men’s and women’s 10km race, a junior men’s 8km race and 6km junior women’s race will take place as well a mixed 4x2km team relay? All races (except the team relay) have an individual race and also a team element with the top four athletes from each nation counting as scorers.

Will the course present a tough challenge?

Absolutely. Following on from the previous edition stage in Aarhus, Denmark in 2019, which was regarded as the toughest cross country course in the world, Bathurst 23 will also present a supreme endurance examination. Each race will place on a tough, technical 2km loop. Comprising hills, a billabong, Bondi Beach (a stretch of sand replicating a beach) and a vineyard surrounded by bush and kangaroos, the event will provide a brutal test for all. And this is not all! Aside from the course, the Australian weather, especially the high temperatures, will provide a tough challenge.

Which NN Running Team athletes plan to compete?

The NN Running Team has a small but select contingent of athletes competing in Bathurst led by World 10,000m and Olympic 5000m champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, Kenyan’s three-time former World Half Marathon gold medallist Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya and Ethiopia’s reigning women’s world 10,000m champion Letesenbet Gidey.

What chances do the trio hold of performing well in Bathurst?

The cross country pedigree of all three is exemplary. Cheptegei won a team bronze with Uganda on home soil at the senior men’s event in Kampala in 2017 and two years later in Aarhus he claimed a four-second victory in the senior men’s race from compatriot Jacob Kiplimo. Kamworor will be making a fifth World Cross Country Championship appearance and will aim to extend his medal-winning streak. At the 2011 event in Punta Umbria he won gold in the U20 race before returning in 2015 and 2017 to claim victory in the senior men’s races. At the last edition in Aarhus he managed to climb the podium once more, snaring individual bronze in the men’s senior race. Gidey also boasts a proud record at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships. In 2015 and 2017 she claimed back-to-back women’s U20 titles and in 2019 she snatched bronze in the women’s individual race. 

Does the NN Running Team have any other competing athletes in Bathurst?

Stella Chesang, the Ugandan women’s half marathon record-holder, is making her sixth World Cross Country appearance and at the two previous editions placed 18th and 21st in the senior women’s race.