The seventh and last leg of the Athletics Kenya Track and Field meet will be held at Thika Stadium from Friday.
World and Commonwealth 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi, World 1,500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera will highlight the two-day full track and field meeting.
Also heading to Thika are World Under-20 1,500m champion Kumari Taki, World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase champion Leonard Kipkemoi and Kenya’s 2017 World Championships 5,000m representative Cyrus Rutto.
Commonwealth 400m finalist Maximilla Imali, 200m sprinter Millicent Ndoro and Alphas Kishoyian, who has shifted from 400m to 800m, have also confirmed participation in the Thika meet.
Athletics Kenya Central Region chairman David Miano said the meet will feature all events save for pole vault and assured athletes of a perfect track despite the ongoing rains.
Most of the elite athletes will be using the Thika meeting to prepare for the Diamond League legs of Prefontaine Classic on May 26 in Eugene, United States and Rome Golden Gala on May 31.
Manangoi, who is fresh from finishing second in 800m race in the Doha Diamond League on May 5, will compete in 3,000m race in Thika ahead of the Bowerman Mile race at the Prefontaine Classic.
“I really want to get that endurance over the distance having started the Diamond League well in Doha,” said Manangoi, who is targeting to improve on his one mile personal best with times of 3:47 or 3:48.
Manangoi clocked a personal best 3:49.08 when he finished second in the Bowerman Mile race last year, losing the battle to compatriot Ronald Kwemoi.
Cheruiyot, who is also the Commonwealth 1,500m silver medallist, will throw down the gauntlet in 5,000m as he also seeks to build his endurance ahead of the Bowerman Mile race where he aims to lower his personal best time of 3:49.64.
Cheruiyot will face the likes of Cyrus Rutto in Thika. Interestingly, Rutto will also slug it out in 3,000m steeplechase.
“This is a big challenge in my career and I think it’s always good to try out some new things,” said Rutto. “It’s my future plan to double in steeplechase and 5,000m.”
Taki hopes to find his right bearing in 800m in Thika after a poor show in Shanghai in 1,500m. Taki will face-off with the likes of Kishoyian and Diamond League regular Geoffrey Barusei, who is likely to compete in 1,500m too.
Nyairera, who won the 400m race in Thika last year, will seek to defend her title against Imali, the national 400m record holder, Ndoro, Veronica Mutua and Gladys Musyoki.
Nyairera is preparing for the Prefontaine 800m grand battle with arch-rivals Olympic and World 800m champion Caster Semenya from South Africa and Burundian Francine Niyonsaba.