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This morning Thika Barracks will host the Kenya Defence Forces' 36th cross-country championships that will be used to pick their team to the national trials-cum-IAAF Permit meeting to be held at Uhuru Gardens.

The showpiece, which has over the years seen KDF athletes included in Team Kenya’s cross-country battalion, except in 2013 when no KDF runner was in the squad to the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships, will see various barracks parade their best talents.

Kahawa’s world half marathon champion Gladys Cherono and former Boston marathon winner Sharon Cherop of Armour Brigade will headline the stellar cast at the Thika Garrison event.

They will face former Olympics 1,500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat (Moi Airbase), Africa bronze medallist Jane Chelagat, World Indoor 1,500m silver medalist Hellen Obiri of Laikipia Airbase and former World Youth 1,500m champion Sheila Chepkurui.

Former Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase bronze medallist Mercy Njoroge (MAB) and former world junior 3,000m champion Veronica Nyaruai (LAB) will also spice up the line-up.

Perennial world cross-country runner Linet Chepkurui (MAB), former Rotterdam Marathon winner Jemima Chelagat, world cross-country runner Gladys Chemweno and former Boston Marathon winner Sharon Cherop will also offer a mouth-watering battle.

In the men’s front, Olympic 3,000m steeplechase bronze medalist Abel Mutai is expected to raise adrenaline to all time high.

But they will walk a tight rope against former Africa 1,500m silver medallist Gideon Gathimba, while competing for Laikipia Airbase (LAB), in the battle for bragging rights to the nationals.

Former Africa 800m bronze medalists Jackson Kivuva and defending champion Leonard Oloitiptip do not expect a soft landing as they square it out with a handful of newcomers. World half marathon sensation Kiplimo Kimutai is also in the mix.

Thika-based John Kipkoech Chepkwony, who posted a brilliant 12:45 in 5,000m last season, but bowed out in the semi-finals at the World Championships in Moscow, will lead the Engineers' onslaught.

(Story courtesy of The Standard Media)

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