World 10,000m bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto is back to defend his men's 10km race at the Isaiah Kiplagat Memorial Ndalat Gaa Cross Country on Saturday at Paul Boit Farm, Ndalat Hills, Nandi County.
Athletics Kenya Central Rift chairman Abraham Mutai announced that Kipruto, the World Under-20 10,000m champion, is among an array of stars heading for the event that will open up the 2019/2020 season.
Kipruto should brace up for an explosive battle against World Under-20 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo, who is also the Commonwealth 5,000m bronze medallist and newly crowned Family Bank Half Marathon champion David Simiu.
Also heading for the battle is World Ubnder-20 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Leonard Bett and seasoned cross country runner Julius Tanki, who is out to atone for a third place finish last year with victory.
World Under-20, 5000m champion Beatrice Chebet is out to launch her season with a possible victory in women's 10km race. However, she will have to dig deep as she prepares to face defending champion Sandra Chebet, 2017 World Cross Country champion Irene Cheptai and seasoned long distance runner Alice Aprot.
At stake in the event that is sponsored by Safaricom, Kass Media, Nandi County Government, Kenya Pipeline and Mosop Constituency CDF among others, is a prize fund of Sh1.5 million.
Mutai said they are ready to host the championships with 12 races on the cards including senior men and women's 10km and junior men and women's 8km. There will be 6km races for secondary school boys' and girls', 4km (boys and girls 10-14) and 500m (boys and girls 4-9).
"We are hosting the event at new ground so as to accommodate more spectators and ample parking," said Mutai.
Mutai said that the top placed 10 youngsters from secondary school and other age group events will undertake a mentorship program that will be running for the second consecutive year at the late Isiah Kiplagat residence.
The race is in honour of Athletics Kenya former president the late Isaiah Kiplagat.