Top guns will battle it out in men’s signature race at the Kenya Prisons cross-country championships at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, on Saturday.
The men’s corrective department’s team will be out to fashion a strong team capable of reclaiming their national crown at the IAAF Permit meeting/Athletics Kenya national cross-country trials at the same venue next month.
Benjamin Njoga, the Kenya Prisons Service Athletics chairman, said he is confident they will marshal a classy line up.
“I have no doubt that we will successfully reclaim our men’s 10km title at the nationals. Our regional commanders and heads of various units will present formidable teams. We have a strong team of our recruits from the Prisons Staff College,” said Njoga, the Deputy Commissioner General Kenya Prisons.
Africa 10,000m silver medalist Wilfred Kimitei, Africa 10,000m champion Alice Aprot, Africa cross country bronze medalist Charles Yosei and Mangata Ndiwa, a world cross country sensation, are among an armada of stars expected.
But John Mwangangi, a former Africa cross country champion, needs to be at his best to tackle a strong field that features 2007 world championships marathon champion Luke Kibet and 2011 world 1,500m silver medalist Silas Kiplagat, who light up the relay showdown.
Former Africa cross-country champion Timothy Kiptoo will be chasing a rare hat trick and will go head to head with 2012 Olympic 5,000m bronze medalist Thomas Longosiwa.
Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku, Olympian Anthony Chemut, IAAF world 1,500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot, Evans Korir, Peter Emase, Cornelius Kangogo and new talent Bernard Rotich are also expected to offer a mouth-watering clash in the chase for team spots to the national championships.
The Kenya Prisons meet brings together a bag of mixed talents, with Kibet and Agnes Katungei staging their comebacks after career-threatening injuries took the wind out of their sails.
Reigning world under-18 champion Jackline Wambui will test her senior rivals in women’s eight-kilometre race.
Former world 2,000m steeplechase champion Celphine Chepteek and Nancy Nziza will lead a host of recruits from Prisons Staff College.
“I expect them to perform well and form the prisons team ahead of the Africa Cross Country Championships in Algeria, where we will defend our continental title,” said Njoga.
Visiline Jepkesho, the 2015 Paris Marathon winner, will lead the women’s onslaught while Olympic 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera and Sylvia Chesebe will anchor the relays squad.
Upstarts Jane Mwikali and Jane Murage will duck it out with Farida Chelang’a.
Kenya’s big names from Prisons include four-time Boston Marathon winner Catherine Ndereba, three-time world half marathon champion Edith Masai, Susan Sirma, Salina Kosgei and Susan Chepkemei.