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Toroitich set to crash Kenyan, Ethiopian party at Okpekpe Race


The Okpekpe International Road Race is expected to feature more foreign runners than the first Lagos Race.

The Okpekpe International Road Race is expected to feature more foreign runners than the first Lagos Race.

Just like his compatriot, Stephen Kiprotich, did four years ago at the London Olympics, where he scaled Kenyan and Ethiopian hurdles to make history as the first Ugandan man to win an Olympic marathon gold, Timothy Toroitich will also be aiming to make a little piece of history at the fourth IAAF Bronze Label Okpekpe International 10km Road Race as the first Ugandan to win the title.

Kenyans have won two of the last three titles on offer courtesy of Moses Masai’s win (29 mins 39 seconds) in 2013 at the inaugural edition of the race and Korio Alex Olotptip’s win last year, while Ethiopia’s Teshome Mekonnen won in 2014, setting a new 28 minutes, 35 seconds All-Nigeria and Course record.

Toroitich, whose first attempt at the Okpekpe title was thwarted by Masai at the inaugural edition of the race, where she settled for the silver, medal is one of the six gold level elite male runners confirmed for tomorrow’s race. He will contend with the Kenyan duo of Simon Cheprot and Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo, who placed sixth and ninth respectively and won a team gold at the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships in  Cardiff, Wales last March, as well as Morris Munene Gachaga, who is the only man in the elite race cast to have broken 28 minutes this year.

Also ready to gatecrash the Kenyan and Ethiopian party is South Africa’s Gladwin Mzazi, who, like the Kenyans, is also a gold level elite runner. Mzazi will draw inspiration from his countryman, Josiah Thugwane, who defied the Kenyan, Ethiopian and Asian odds to win the Olympic marathon gold in 1996.

Ethiopia will have the duo of Alemu Hungegnaw, a former winner at the Obudu Mountain Race and a gold level elite runner, as well as Abayneh Degu Tsehay, a silver level runner, to help protect the course record set by their countryman, Mekonnen in 2014 and reclaim the title he lost last year to Alex Olotptip.

Morocco’s Zakaria Boudad and Tanzania’s Ismael Juma Gallet, both silver level elite runners, will be waiting for any slip from the top-ranked Kenyans, Ethiopians and Toroitich to make an unlikely dash for the title.

In the women’s category, it will still be a duel between the Kenyans and Ethiopians who have dominated the last three editions.

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