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Moraa, Chespol headline Kisii cross country meet

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World Under-18 400m silver medallist Mary Moraa and World Cross Country mixed relay gold medallist Winfred Mbithe will highlight the fourth leg of Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series at Kisii Golf Club on Saturday.

AK Nyanza South region chairman Peter Angwenyi announced that Moraa will represent Mogonga Club in the mixed relay in the event that is the last of the four AK Series.

The Series that have traversed Machakos, Nyandarua and Mount Elgon will after Kisii pave way for institutions and regional championships in the countdown to the National Cross Country Championships set for February 23 at Eldoret Golf Club.

AK will select a team from the Eldoret meet for the World Cross Country Championships to be held on March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark.

Mbithe, the winner of the first leg in Machakos, heads to Kisii, hoping to pick up her second title in women’s 10km race. She faces a tough battle against Africa Cross Country champion Cellphine Chespol.

Mbithe, who is training at Silibwet Athletics Club in Bomet, is a police officer while Chespol, who is also, the World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion, is with Kenya Prisons.

Mbithe will also run the mixed relays in Kisii, teaming up with World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Leonard Bett, 2016 Africa Cross Country Under-20 champion Mirriam Cherop and Bernard Kipkorir.

Besides Mbithe and Chespol, the senior women’s race has attracted home athlete Caren Areba, who won the Sotik meet two years ago.

“We would like to see Chespol opening her season in Kisii as she targets to scale the ladder to senior level proper this year,” said Kenya Prisons head coach Gedion Chirchir.

Silibwet Athletics Club coach John Kimetto indicated that Kisii will be quite crucial for his athletes as he prepares his team for County Championships on January 26. “We are prepared for Kisii,” declared Kimetto.

Lemotit Athletics Club from Londiani has sent a strong junior team led by Olympic Youth 3,000m silver medallist Mercy Chepkorir and World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase champion Caren Chebet.

A number of athletes will, however, miss the final leg of the AK Series as they shift to their respective institution or regional and other races aboard.

Among them is World and Commonwealth 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri, who will be competing in a cross country event in Spain on Sunday.

However, Angwenyi indicated that men’s 10km race is still rich with home athletes Fredrick Morang’a and Sammy Nyokaye expected to go head-on alongside athletes from the neighbouring regions.