NAIROBI, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's world marathon champion Rose Chelimo and 2017 world-leading half marathon runner Abraham Cheroben have been added to the elite fields for the Safi Half Marathon on Jan. 7.
However, the duo, who left Nairobi on Thursday for the Morocco race, will not have an easy walk through the pack in their quest to claim victory.
Organizers have lined up a strong challenge and the winner will sweat every mile of the race for the title.
Leading Kenyan charges will be Nairobi marathon champion Celestine Chepchirchir.
The 27-year-old is coming off a 2:31:41 clocking at the Nairobi Marathon in November while Uganda's former world 5,000m bronze medalist Moses Kipsiro will take the battle to Cheroben's turf.
"I have not been off training since the race in Nairobi. I had this event planned and will be happy to see if I may win," said Chepchirchir.
"But it down to the training of an individual athlete and the weather of the day. Many top names are lined up including Chelimo, who trains with us in Eldoret."
Chelimo is a former Kenyan marathon runner, who now competes for Bahrain and won the gold medal in women's marathon at the London World Championships in August.
But that will count for nothing when she lines up in Morocco for the Safi Half Marathon.
"My target is to get fit for the London or Boston Marathon in April. After this race in Morocco, I will head back to training camp to polish on areas I feel need to be worked on," said Chelimo.
In the men's race, apart from Cheroben and Kipsiro, there will also be another Ugandan Ben Somikwo, who is 10 years younger than Kipsiro but almost as fast. Somikwo holds half marathon best time of 1:01:12 run in Reims, France, in 2015.
A more formidable challenge may come from the Ethiopian quartet of Terefa Debela, Gizachew Hailu, Birhan Nebebew and Getaneh Molla.
The fastest of those is Debela, who came close to cracking the 60-minute barrier when the 19-year-old ran 1:00:22 to finish second at the Istanbul Half Marathon in April.