Simon Cheprot will return to defend his title at the fifth edition of the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race in Nigeria on Saturday.
Cheprot, 23, battled hot and humid conditions one year ago to prevail in 29:48 six weeks after a notable sixth place finish at the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. The Kenyan has raced sparingly this year, and most recently clocked 42:51 in a 15km race in Le Puy-en-Velay, France, where he finished third.
Also back is Ismail Juma of Tanzania, the runner-up last year. The 25-year-old arrives on the heels of a solid victory at the Istanbul Half Marathon where he clocked a 1:00:09 lifetime best and should be considered the favourite.
Others to watch include Kenyan Edwin Kipyego, who has a 27:49 lifetime best from 2012 and this year clocked 1:00:05 in February for sixth at the RAK Half in Ras Al Khaimah; Birhanu Yemataw of Bahrain, an Olympic 5000m finalist last year; and Mustapha El Aziz of Morocco, the African Championships 10,000m silver medallist in 2014 who clocked his 27:33 lifetime best on the roads in Marrakech last year.
In the women’s race, Ethiopian Netsanet Gudeta, bronze medallist at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships, could be the woman to beat. The 26-year-old arrives in good form, racing for the first time after her 2:29:15 run at the Paris Marathon in early April where she finished sixth.
She’ll be joined by compatriot Azmera Gebru, an African junior champion at 3000m in 2011, who boasts a 31:50 lifetime best ove the 10km distance from 2014. She hasn’t yet raced this year.
Leading the the Kenyan contingent will be Pascalia Chepkorir Kipkoech, who was fifth at the recent Yangzhou Half Marathon in 1:11:31. For company she’ll have veteran racer Alice Timbilili, who ran 31:12 for the distance in 2010, but who appears far from that form this season with just a modest 2:39:02 marathon finish in February to her credit from Lagos.