Top guns will battle it out for glory at the Kenya Prisons cross-country championships at Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru on Saturday.
The corrective department’s team will be out to fashion a strong team capable of reclaiming their national crown at the Athletics Kenya national cross-country trials next month.
Gideon Chirchir, the Kenya Prisons Service Athletics head coach, said he was confident they will name a strong team.
“I have no doubt that we will successfully reclaim our men’s 10km title at the nationals. Our regions and heads of various units will present formidable teams,” said Chirchir, a former 3,000m steeplechase athlete.
Africa 10,000m silver medalist Wilfred Kimitei, Africa 10,000m champion Alice Aprot, Africa cross country bronze medalist Charles Yosei Mneria and Mangata Ndiwa, a world cross country sensation, are among top stars expected to race on Saturday.
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 is also expected to light up the relay showdown.
Former Africa cross-country champion Timothy Kiptoo who is seeking to reclaim his title and will go head to head with 2012 Olympic 5,000m bronze medalist Thomas Longosiwa.
Former Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku, Olympian Anthony Chemut, world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Evans Korir, Peter Emase, Cornelius Kangogo and Bernard Rotich are expected to offer a mouth-watering clash in the chase for team spots to the national championships.
Alex Kipng’eno, a member of the 800m squad to 2019 World Championships, will also be in the start line.
The Kenya Prisons meet brings together a bag of mixed talent in Loice Chemining and Agnes Katungei.
Reigning World Under-18 champion Jackline Wambui will test her senior rivals in women’s eight-kilometer race.
Former world 2,000m steeplechase champion Celphine Chepteek, 2017 world cross country bronze medalist Lilian Kasait and Nancy Nziza will also be in action.
“I expect them to perform well and form the prisons team ahead of the World Cross Country Championships in Australia, where we intend to protect our turf,” said Chirchir.
Visiline Jepkesho, the 2015 Paris Marathon winner, will lead the women’s onslaught while Olympic 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera and Sylvia Chesebe will lead the relays squad.
Upstarts Jane Mwikali and Jane Murage will battle it out against 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.