The adrenaline levels are running high ahead of the men’s national cross country trials at Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi tomorrow.
It is often billed as mini world championships minus the Ethiopians and Ugandans.
But the clash between world half marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie and immediate former world record holder over the distance Geoffrey Kamworor, a two-time World cross country champion, remains the talking point.
Kandie, a Kenya Defence Forces soldier, lowered Kamworor’s world 21km record mark of 58.01 to 57.32, at RAK half marathon last year.
And Kamworor would be out to prove a point: that he is a runner of all surfaces and seasons –and, at best, confirm that National Police Service athletes would continue taking cross country honours.
On the other hand, Kandie will be keen to push KDF’s bid to reclaim cross country turf having dominated in the past.
The two must be wary of former World cross country silver medalist Bedan Karoki and 2016 Africa cross country bronze medalist Charles Yosei Mneria of Kenya Prisons Service.
KDF, who won the overall title last year after Kandie beat Kamworor, have marshalled a strong squad that includes road racers Collins Koros, Eric Kiptanui and 2012 Olympic 3000m steeplechase bronze medalist Abel Mutai. Joseph Karanja and Vincent Mutai are also in the mix.
Kamworor, who won his eighth Police cross country title a fort night ago, will lead fellow cops in Josephat Kiprotich, Casios Masinde, Joseph Kiptum, Kipsang Temoi and Kenneth Cheserek in the fierce showdown. The course has challenging obstacles and an energy-sapping hill.
Mneria will lead Prison warders in Boaz Kiprugut, Africa 10000m silver medalist Wilfred Kimitei, Patrick Kipng’eno, Emmanuel Ngatuny and Peter Emase.
A sudden invasion of civilians led by Karoki and Commonwealth Games 10000m bronze medalist Rodgers Kwemoi would also pose a serious threat.
Ronald Kirui, Paul Mutero, Moses Koech, Emmanuel Kiprop and Emmanuel Kiboi are other stars from the regions.
Robert Kiprop, who won the Discovery cross country title two weeks ago, will lead Nicholas Kimeli, Rodgers Kwemoi, Emmanuel Bor, Titus Kiprotich and Alex Kibet for Central Rift.
North Rift will line up Michael Kibet, Enus Keles, Emmanuel Ruto, Edward Kibet and Robert Krop while South Rift will rely on 2019 national champion Amos Kirui, Bernard Kipkemboi, Nicholas Kosimbei, Leonard Kipkirui, Edwin Bett and Vincent Rono.
The 2018 Africa Youth Olympics 1,500m champion Nickson Lesiyia, who has graduated to senior ranks, will join forces with Alexander Mutiso, fourth finisher at Valencia Half Marathon in December 2018 Youth Olympic 3,000m champion Jackson Kavesa, Emmanuel Lemama, Bernard Musau and Stephen Mwendwa in the Southern region squad.
Kennedy Kemegwa, Geoffrey Musanga, Jacob Chechari, Isaac Kibet, Samuel Limo and Brian Kiptoo will carry Western region’s men’s flag.
Nyanza South entered Vincent Kipkirui, Sammy Nyokoe, Dickson Simba, Paul Machoka, Dancan Manyara and Enock Onchari.
Nyanza North will be presented by Shadrack Kipchirchir, Willy Kiprono, Caleb Otieno, Hosea Kimosop, Ayub Kwanga and Kennedy Onsarigo.
The Coast Region will parade Phanuel Mkungu, Daniel Kemoi, Vincent Tonui, Boniface Nduva, Lamek Mwakio and Luca Musembu.
Moris Munene, John Muiruri, Alexander Njai, Simon Kiruthi, Julius Tanui and Martin Mumo will be competing for Eastern Region men team.