FOUR runners from Kenya will take on Tasmania's best in an exciting new indoor race planned for the Launceston Silverdome's Christmas carnival.
They will race for the Tasmanian Indoor Mile Championship on the carnival's program on Saturday, December 28.
``We will pit the four Kenyans against the four best milers Tasmania has,'' carnivals promoter John Craven said.
Craven will be in Tasmania later this week to meet clubs and the Tasmanian Sports Carnivals Association as the countdown to the Christmas carnivals begins.
``It is experimental bringing Africans to the carnivals for the first time but they are top class performers in their own right and I guarantee spectators will get great excitement from watching them run,'' he said.
The championship will be run just before the final of the Launceston Wheel in what Craven is promising to be an actioned-packed evening session.
Local runners in contention to be invited include James Hansen, Patrick Smith, Doug Hamerlok, Grant Page, Alec Thomas and Jake Birtwhistle.
Their target will be to break Ryan Gregson's mile record of 3.58.49 which he sent while on scholarship in the US two years ago.
The allcomers record is 3.56.7 set by the great New Zealander Johnnie Walker in Hobart in 1983.
Headlining the group of Kenyans is 18-year-old Festus Talam who has clocked a personal best time of 1.49 for 800 metres and 3.59 for the mile.
Talam made a huge impression at the Great Ocean Road festival in Victoria in May when he won the 23km half-marathon and the 14km race as well as finishing second in the 6km.
Coming with Talam will be Elijah Kiptoo, John Rotich and David Wanjohi who have all run sub-3.36 for 1500m.
Craven will meet with the committee of the Launceston City Cycling Club tomorrow night to confirm final details of the race including the level of prizemoney.
Launceston will revert back to a two-session carnival although it is Craven's intention to have the final event of the night run at at about 9pm.
The Kenyans will run at Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie as well and Craven is confident they will add lustre to the middle-distance events.
``Running on grass will be new to them as will the handicap system but they will adjust,'' he said.
They will run in the 1600m event at Latrobe on December 27, the 800m and 1600m at the two-day Devonport carnival on December 29-30 and the Burnie mile on New Year's Day.
Athletics Tasmania president Mike Gunson, who is also president of SCAT, said he was looking forward to the Kenyans putting on a show.
``It's fantastic to see that John Craven's company Caribou has contracted athletes of such a high standard,'' he said.
``These elite athletes will bring exceptional racing to the North-West Coast of Tasmania and it means that the 1600m races will be the highest quality we've seen in a long, long time.''
While in Tasmania Craven will finalise the $20,000 criterium series he has organised for Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie as well as his novelty cricket ball throwing event.