Lucy Kabuu and Geoffrey Kipsang will be seeking their third consecutive victories when the Kenya Police Cross Country championships get under way at the Ngong Racecourse on Saturday morning.
Kipsang, who is also the 2011 World Cross Country junior champion and Kabuu, the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion, will however not have it easy as they will be up against some battle-hardened opponents.
And even though some top athletes including Asbel Kiprop and Linet Masai have withdrawn from the event, organisers have maintained that it will not affect the level of competition as many more star athletes will be in the run for top honours.
Police head coach Isaac Kirwa said Kiprop and Masai are some of the athletes excused to run abroad. “But the field remains stellar with a galaxy of stars out to battle in men 12km and women’s 8km races,” said Kirwa.
Kiprop and Masai won the 2007 World Cross Country junior men’s and women’s races.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics 1,500m champion Kiprop, who also won the 2011 World title before defending it last year in Moscow, has opted to compete at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country on Saturday.
This is not the first time Kiprop is competing in Edinburgh. He finished second in 2011 before winning the race the year.
Masai, the 2009 World 10,000m champion, who holds three silver medals from World Cross senior women races, is also in Europe. World 3,000m steeplechase winner Milcah Chemos has withdrawn from the 8.30am event after falling ill.
Kabuu and Kipsang followed up their 2013 police victories with standout displays at Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in February last year, where they posted some of the best times.
Kabuu chalked a new personal best of 1:06:09, just 19 seconds off Mary Keitany’s world record. Kipsang recorded a new PB 58:54, just two seconds outside the course record. Kabuu says she will make an attempt on Keitany’s record (1:05:50) next month at Ras Al Khaimah.
Geoffrey Kipsang will face Wilson Kipsang, who set a new World marathon record of 2:03:23 when he won the Berlin Marathon last year.
New York Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai and World 5,000m bronze medallist Isaiah Kiplangat are also in the line up.
The 2009 World 10,000m bronze medallist Moses Ndiema Masai and 2009 World Cross Country junior champion Titus Mbishei are also expected to make their returns on Saturday.
Kabuu will be up against World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and Berlin Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat.
“My target is to break the World Half Marathon record at Ras Al Khaimah in February,” said Kabuu.
Men: Geoffrey Kipsang, Wilson Kipsang, Geoffrey Mutai, Isaiah Kiplangat, Moses Ndiema Masai, Titus Mbishei. Nicholas Bett, Augustine Choge, Ezekiel Kemboi.
Women: Lucy Kabuu, Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat, Mercy Cherono, Isabella Ochichi, Janeth Kisa, Margaret Wangare, Grace Momanyi , Eunice Su, Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei