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Kenyan Team Cheruiyot Set To Create History in First-ever Virtual Race
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Kenyan Team Cheruiyot Set To Create History in First-ever Virtual Race

It will be Kenya against Sweden on June 11 for the Oslo Bislett Games as part of the ‘Impossible Games’ – but with a twist with athletes competing against each other in two different cities.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has meant international travel is not possible at the moment, but event organisers have come up with a unique way for athletes to compete against each other.

Racing over 2000m, the Ingebrigtsen brothers – Henrik, Filip and Jakob – will run at the Bislett Stadium, while world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot and 2017 world champion Elijah Manangoi will form part of ‘Team Cheruyitot’ and will run in Nairobi.

The race will be shown on international TV as a split screen competition and is named ‘The Maurie Plant Memorial’ in honour of the Australian athletics agent who died in January.

“This will be the first virtual race at such a level in the history of athletics,” said meeting director Steinar Hoen.

“Maurie loved middle-distance running and he loved Bislett,” added Hoen. “But he also loved non-traditional arrangements of events. In his earlier years, serving the athletics family, he was the mastermind behind countless matches between countries around the world. Our idea is to honor him with such an event which is completely in line with everything he loved.”

Both teams will start with five runners and will have to finish with three. The winner of the contest will be the team with the best overall time for three runners.

Individual times will count as well, and the Ingebrigtsen brothers will have one eye on the European record of 4:51.39 held by Steve Cram, who will be commentating on the race.

“Athletics Kenya is fully supportive of this creative idea from the Oslo DL,” said Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei.

“Serious racing within a safe environment while also entertainment for avid athletics fans the world over is to be welcomed. Our planning has begun, and we thank Oslo for involving us.”

Several other big names were announced at today’s press conference. In the pole vault, Mondo Duplantis will take on his predecessor as world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie.

World champion Daniel Stahl will compete in the discus, while two-time world 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm will attempt to break the men’s 300m hurdles world record. The women’s 300m hurdles will be a three-way clash between European champion Lea Sprunger, Olympic silver medallist Sara Slott Petersen and Norwegian record-holder Amalie Iuel.

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