Frankfurt Marathon champion Mark Kiptoo has warned his rivals to brace for a bruising battle during the Kenya Defence Forces Cross-country Championships on Friday at Kahawa Garrison in Nairobi.
The 38-year-old Kiptoo, who captained Team Kenya for the 2008 Edinburgh and 2009 Amman World Cross-country Championships, said he hopes to power his Laikipia Air Base team to victory.
But a leg injury has forced women’s defending champion Helen Obiri to withdraw from the championships.
Despite the World 1,500m bronze medallist withdrawal, the women’s 8km field is still rich with World Half Marathon champion, Gladys Cherono back from injury, among others.
“I know things will be tough and the speed high, with many youngsters in the race, but I have been there before and I know what to do,” said Kiptoo, who won the KDF title in 2009.
Kiptoo has urged his teammates, including defending champion Leonard Oloitiptip, to go for the team title.
Besides Oloitiptip, Kiptoo will face upcoming athletes from other military formations in the likes of Linus Chumba and Kiplimo Mutai.
Others are 2010 World Cross-country champion Joseph Ebuya and 2007 World Cross country junior silver medallist Vincent Kiprop.
“I want to concentrate on cross country before thinking about anything else,” said Kiptoo, adding that he is keen to return to the World Cross-country Championships for the first time since Amman. “It won’t be easy making the national team but anything can happen. It will be an honour if I make the team,” explained the 2012 Africa 5,000m champion.
Kiptoo, who won silver in 10,000m at the 2012 Africa Championships and boasts two gold medals in 5,000m from the 2007 and 2011 World Military Games, said he is through with track racing.
“Speeds tend to go down when you turn to road racing. I will only compete in 5,000m to gauge my speed in readiness for road races,” said the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games 5,000m bronze medallist.
Kiptoo made his marathon debut in Frankfurt in 2013 where he came second to Vincent Kipruto in 2:06:16.