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By AYUMBA AYODI
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Defending champion Alice Aprot Saturday will be seeking her fourth title when she goes head-to-head with Celliphine Chespol in the Kenya Prisons Service Cross Country Championships at the Prisons Staff Training College (PSTC), Ruiru.

Aprot, the 2017 World Cross Country silver medallist, edged out Chespol, the 2017 World Cross Country Under-20 bronze medallist, to second place last year.

The athletes, who have both won the Africa Cross Country title, said they are ready for the championships that is sponsored by ICEA Lions Life Assurance, Kenya Women Finance Trust Bank, Ketepa Tea, Nairobi Bottlers Coca Cola, Mageraza Sacco and Athletics Kenya.

While Aprot has taken part in three cross country races this season – Tuskys Wareng, Nyandarua and Kapsokwony – it will be the first race for Chespol since finishing fifth in 3,000m steeplechase during the Brussels Diamond League last August.

“I have not been performing well due to some painful legs. I have just recovered from a terrible cold,” said Aprot, who finished second and fourth in Nyandarua and Kapsokwony respectively.

Aprot said that she will be a marked closely by her rivals who will be out to halt her dominance especially the bubbly Chespol, who retained her World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase title in a Championship Record time of 9:12.78 last July in Finland.

Chespol, 19, the 2015 World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase champion, claimed the Africa Cross Country senior women’s 10km title last year in Chlef, Algeria. “I have not competed since August but I hope for the best.”

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Also in contention at the women’s race are former Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho, who finished third last year, Caroline Biwott, Nancy Nzisa and Catherine Syokau.

The 2012 Olympic Games 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa is set to make a return after one year lull in the men’s 10km race that has attracted defending champion Cornelius Kangogo, 2016 Africa 5,000m bronze medallist Mangata Ndiwa and 2015 Africa 10,000m silver medallist Wilfred Kimitei.

The 37-year-old Longosiwa, who was out the whole of last season through a spinal injury, on Friday declared that he is prepared for the big return.

“I have had many challenges but I am glad that I have made a slow but smooth return,” said Longosiwa, who has been training for the last four months in Iten. “I am about 60 per cent ready but I hope for the best.”

Kangogo, the 2015 Africa Cross Country silver medallist, stunned Ndiwa and Kimitei for the title last year. Ndiwa and Kimitei are back to chase the title again.

The relays promises breathtaking moments with World and Commonwealth 1,500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera teaming up for North Eastern.

Sylvia Chesebe, who won silver in 4x800m at the 2014 World Relays and Medley Relay at 2015 World Relays will represent Nairobi while Anthony Chemut is in the Western team.



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