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Star-studded field for Ol Kalou Cross Country leg

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By AYUMBA AYODI
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Seasoned long distance runners Wilfred Kimitei of Prisons and Police’s Jonathan Bett clash in a star-filled men’s race in the second leg of Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series Saturday at the Ol Kalou Sports grounds, Nyandarua County.

Kimitei, who is the 2016 Africa 10,000m silver medallist and fresh from finishing third at Lille Half Marathon in France two months ago, and Bett, the 2014 Commonwealth 10,000m silver medallist, have a tough field to contend with.

Kimitei will lead Prisons team that has the 2016 Africa 5,000m bronze medallist Mangata Ndiwa while experienced middle distance runners Anthony Chemut and Boaz Kiprugut will field for Prisons in the mixed relays.

Bett won the 2008 World Junior 10,000m title besides settling for bronze in 10,000m at the 2014 Africa Championships. He also represented Kenya at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, finishing 10th.

Kenya Police Service coach Isaac Kirwa said Bett will spearhead a squad of upcoming athletes.

The contingent from Police and Prions face strong opponents from other regions that include Kenya Defence Forces.

Benjamin Kigen, who rose to the limelight with a famous victory in 3,000m steeplechase during the Prefontaine Classic in May in the USA, will lead Kenya Police’s assault that has steeplechaser Kennedy Njiru, Hillary Kemboi, Hillary Kering, Wilson Maraba, Victor Kibet and Wilson Kibogo.

Another explosive showdown is expected in women’s 10km race what with Kenya Defence Forces champion Hellen Obiri and her Kenya Prisons counterpart Alice Aprot go head-on.

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It will be Obiri’s first race this season since the Ostrava IAAF Continental Cup on September 8, where she settled for bronze in the 3,000m race.

“I am ready for the challenge and especially Aprot, who has more cross country experience,” said Obiri, who declared her interest both for the National and World Cross Country women’s 10km titles.

“I have never participated at the National Cross Country Championships trials save for last year when I took part in the relays. I want to go for the major one now,” declared Obiri, the reigning World 5,000m champion.

Obiri, who won the Commonwealth Games and Africa 5,000m titles in April and August this year respectively, revealed that she will skip the IAAF World Indoor Tour next year to concentrate of the World Cross Country Championships, World Championships and Africa Games planned for next year.

The 28-year-old Obiri leads a quality field from KDF that includes former KDF champion Selah Jepleting, steeplechaser Mercy Wanjiru and Gladys Magima.

Aprot, the 2017 World Cross Country silver medallist, dared Obiri saying she is ready for the challenge.

“It will be an interesting battle since this is the first time we shall meet in cross country,” said Aprot, who won the Africa Cross Country and Africa 10,000m titles in 2016.

Aprot opened her season at the Tuskys Wareng Cross Country Championships on Sunday, where she finished 11th.

Aprot leads a strong contingent from Kenya Prisons that includes former Prisons 10,000m champion Nancy Nzisa, Mercyline Ondieki and Caroline Biwott.

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