KINGSPORT — Kenyan runner Shadrack Kosgei is a two-time champion of the Indian Path Medical Center & CrestPoint Health Crazy 8s 8K Run.
He is not content to rest on his laurels. He wants to win his third title in the Model City.
Following last year’s runner-up finish behind Tilahua Regassa of Ethiopia, Kosgei has his heart set on taking the Bank of Tennessee $5,000 Dash For The Gold in tonight’s race.
“It was a little fast last year. I tried to hang with (Regassa) but it didn’t work,” said Kosgei, who won Crazy 8s titles in 2011 and 2010.
Kosgei’s finest race in Kingsport occurred in 2001. That year he finished third with a 22:06 behind runner-up Enock Mitei (22:03.9) and champion Alene Emere (22:03.4) in a thrilling three-way battle that challenged the still-standing world record 22:02.2 clocked in Kingsport by Peter Githuka in 1996.
Tonight, the Regional Eye Center $10,008 World Record Bonus will be once again up for grabs.
Given Kosgei’s history in Kingsport, he’ll take his mark for tonight’s 9:58 p.m. starting gun with all eyes focused on him. He could not predict whether or not this year’s field will establish anything approaching the blistering pace of 2001.
“Yeah, there is a little bit of pressure. But I really want to win again,” Kosgei said. “I don’t know about the record. I just want to win.”
Joining Kosgei in the field of elite runners is Tolossa Gedefa of Ethopia, who won the Bay-To-Breakers 12K in San Francisco this past May. Fellow countryman Mengitsu Tabor Nebsi, who is also in town for the Crazy 8s, was NYRR Runner of the Year in 2012.
Other notable elite men’s runners in Saturday’s race will include Abdelaziz Atmani and Aisssa Dgoughi of Morrocco and Aschealew Meketa Neguse of Ethiopia. There will be lots of Kenyans running, including Stehen Njoroge, Julius Koskei, Simion Chirchir, Kipyegon Kirui, Kiprono Kurgat and Boniface Biwiott and several others.
Humidity, even more so than heat, has been the world record deal-breaker in past races. Race organizers are hoping that neither heat nor humidity will prove significant factors tonight.
A pace-setter who can complete a 4K run in 11 minutes or less is another piece in the world record puzzle.
“We’re talking to someone, so there’s a possibility we can have a pace-setter,” said Crazy 8s Elite Runner Coordinator Donna Bays. “We just have to be sure he can set the pace that Shadrack and ther front guys are wanting.”
World record pace or no, tonight’s Crazy 8s field will be packed with avid runners from Northeast Tennessee and surrounding states.
“Running is enjoying a boom right now and it’s increasing for lots of reasons,” said Hank Brown, Crazy 8s 8K founder and director. “There are so many races now that there are almost too many. Runners are splitting themselves up between races. But they all seem to want to come to this one.
“We hold it late at night, we have the figure-eight course and the stadium finish. People tell me all the time they run a lot of big races and they really love this one,” Brown said.