Kenyan duo of Ronoh Timothy Kiplagat and Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei will spearhead Kenya’s bid for a fourth double swoop of the top prize and titles on offer when the sixth IAAF silver label Okpekpe International 10km Road Race is flagged off tomorrow in Okpekpe near Auchi in Edo State.
Last year Ethiopian duo of Leul Gebriesialse and Gabru Azemra won the men and
women’s title respectively for the second time since the second edition of the race in 2014 when Teshome Asafan ran a new 28:36 seconds new course record and Wudey Ayalew also raced into a new 32:41 seconds course record to make it a double sweep.
Tomorrow in Okpekpe, Kiplagat and Tuei will hope to re-establish Kenyan dominance in the race.
Kiplagat is one of the fastest men registered for the race this year following the 27 minutes, 52 seconds he ran to place third at the Laredo 10k in Spain.
He will however have to get one over Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn who ran faster (27 minutes 37 seconds) at the Laredo race as well as compatriot, Simon Cheprot, the 2016 winner who wants to become the first man to win the Okpekpe titles twice.
Another Kenyan, Josphat Kiprono Menjo may wind back the clock to surprise the pre-race favourites.
He holds an eight-year old 27:04 personal best which makes him the fourth fastest man in the all-time list.
His best so far this season is the 28:28 he ran to place fifth at the Valencia 10k race in January this year and he may have to go back in time for form if he hopes to become the fifth Kenyan man to win the title.
For the women, Tuei, whose 30:57 run in Valencia in January makes her the unofficial fastest woman over the distance so far this year looks good to become the fifth Kenyan woman to run away with the title.
The Kenyan will however be fiercely challenged by not only her compatriots including Polline Wanjiku, the 2016 winner who hopes to make history as the second woman to win an Okpekpe title but also by Ethiopia’s Jima Bekele Reta and Bahrain’s Damaris
Reta ran what would have been the second fastest time of all time (30:10) in Dubai in June 2017 and will now have an IAAF silver label road race to prove she can run faster and be officially recognised.
Mutua has been active this season over the distance. She was fourth (34:22) in the Abu Dhabi 10 km last March and fifth in April at the Kenitra 10 km in Morocco with an improved time of 34:06.
She may however need to run as fast her 32:22 personal best set way back in 1994 to have a chance of upstaging the Ethiopians and the Kenyans.