(Xinhua) -- Kenya’s world marathon champion Rose Chelimo
and 2017 world-leading half marathon runner Abraham Cheroben have
been added to the elite fields for the Safi Half Marathon on Jan. 7.
However, the duo, who left Nairobi on
Thursday for the Morocco race, will not have an easy walk through
the pack in their quest to claim victory.
Organizers have lined up a strong
challenge and the winner will sweat every mile of the race for the
Leading Kenyan charges will be Nairobi
marathon champion Celestine Chepchirchir.
The 27-year-old is coming off a
2:31:41 clocking at the Nairobi Marathon in November while Uganda’s
former world 5,000m bronze medalist Moses Kipsiro will take the
battle to Cheroben’s turf.
“I have not been off training since
the race in Nairobi. I had this event planned and will be happy to
see if I may win,” said Chepchirchir.
“But it down to the training of an
individual athlete and the weather of the day. Many top names are
lined up including Chelimo, who trains with us in Eldoret.”
Chelimo is a former Kenyan marathon
runner, who now competes for Bahrain and won the gold medal in
women’s marathon at the London World Championships in August.
But that will count for nothing when
she lines up in Morocco for the Safi Half Marathon.
“My target is to get fit for the
London or Boston Marathon in April. After this race in Morocco, I
will head back to training camp to polish on areas I feel need to be
worked on,” said Chelimo.
In the men’s race, apart from Cheroben
and Kipsiro, there will also be another Ugandan Ben Somikwo, who is
10 years younger than Kipsiro but almost as fast. Somikwo holds half
marathon best time of 1:01:12 run in Reims, France, in 2015.
A more formidable challenge may come
from the Ethiopian quartet of Terefa Debela, Gizachew Hailu, Birhan
Nebebew and Getaneh Molla.
The fastest of those is Debela, who
came close to cracking the 60-minute barrier when the 19-year-old
ran 1:00:22 to finish second at the Istanbul Half Marathon in