Kiptoo, Njeru Top List of Okpekpe Race Elite Cast


Kenyan duo of Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo and Polline Wanjiku Njeru top the cast of gold level running men and women elite athletes who will be competing for the $15,000 top prize on offer at the IAAF bronze label fourth Okpekpe International 10km Road Race next month in Okpekpe in Edo State.

Kiptoo who ran 1:01:21 to place ninth at last month’s IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships in Wales will lead into Okpekpe three other men who are gold level elite runners while Njeru will also head the cast of three other women who are also of gold level rating.

“We also have other elite athletes who are of silver level running confirmed for the race,” said Spokesman for the race, Dare Esan.

“The IAAF requirements for the Okpekpe race is that we should have elite athletes who are of bronze level ratings because of its bronze label status but we want to elevate the status of the event to silver next year hence the need to go beyond the requirements for a bronze label race,” he said and listed some of the other gold level running athletes confirmed for the race.

“We have Morris Munene Gachaga from Kenya who ran a gold level 27:27.0 time in Casablanca, Morocco just recently as well as the duo of Ethiopia’s Alemu Hungegnaw and another Kenyan, Simon Cheprot who is on the waiting list to replace fellow country man Teshome Mekonen who pulled out because of injury.’

“For the women, we have such top-class athletes as Pascalia Chepk. Kipkoech from Kenya, Maryane W. Wanjiru also from Kenya and Ethiopia’s Buzunesh G. Gudeta confirmed for the race.

“There is also Edith Celimo from Kenya who is third on the 2016 IAAF top list of performers with 31:07 achieved early this month in Brunssum, a town in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands.”

Esan is pleased with the quality of elite runners for the race and is confident the desire to get a silver label status next year will be a fait accompli.

“Our elite athletes manager, Walter Abmayr, has done a really good job. Apart from getting mostly gold and silver level running athletes for the race, he is also able to achieve the mandatory spread required for a silver label race albeit the race is bronze labeled.

“Bronze Label races must have an international elite field with a minimum of five men and five women participating in the competition and a minimum of four different nationalities must be represented,” Esan revealed.

For gold and silver labeled races, the international elite field is a minimum of five men and five women participating in the competition and a minimum of at least five different nationalities.

“We have as many as 21 elite athletes made up of 12 men and nine women registered for the race from as many as seven countries with Israel, Morocco and Bahrain providing athletes.”