NAIROBI, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has entered 16 men and 11 women in the Copenhagen Half Marathon, which will be run in the Danish Capital on Sept. 16.
There will also be an additional three pace setters as focus turn from track competition to the road racing campaign.
The Copenhagen Half Marathon is a Gold Label race ranked by the athletics world governing body IAAF. Leading the Kenyan charges will be reigning champion Abraham Cheroben, a Kenyan who represents Bahrain.
"It has always been hard to win at this level of competition. There is always somebody new coming in trying to raffle the feathers and I must be on the lookout if I want to retain my title," said Cheroben, who trains in Iten in northwest Kenya.
No fewer than 17 athletes with career bests under the one hour-mark will be on the starting line-up in the men's race.
The line-up includes reigning champion Abraham Cheroben (58:40) from Bahrain and Kenyans Jorum Okombo (58:48) and Alex Korio (58:51) who were second and third behind Cheroben last year.
"We train well with Cheroben, but that will not mean that I will not take the challenge to him. He is a stronger athlete, but I have done well in training and believe, I can outshine him in Copenhagen," Korio said on Friday in Eldoret.
Kenya's Erick Kiptanui, the joint world leader with 58:42, is also in the line-up along with former London Marathon winner Daniel Wanjiru (59:20), Olympic marathon bronze medalist Galen Rupp (59:47) and Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa (59:30) and Shura Kitata (60:10).
Wanjiru is using the race in Copenhagen to gauge his preparedness ahead of his running at the New York Marathon on Nov. 4.
"I'm ready for the test in Copenhagen. I have already confirmed my participation for the New York Marathon in November. Training is going on well, getting ready to make my debut in New York. But first I have to see where I rank in half marathon in Denmark," said Wanjiru.
World Indoor Championships 3,000m winner Yomif Kejelcha is also due to make his half marathon debut.
The women's race features 18 athletes with sub-70 minutes personal best time including Kenyans Joan Chelimo (65:04), Edith Chelimo (65:52), Ruth Chepngetich (66:19) and reigning world half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta from Ethiopia (66:11).
Other well-known names in the field include USA's Jordan Hasay (67:55) and Ethiopia's Gelete Burka (68:18).
Dutch long distance runner Sifan Hassan is also due to make her half marathon debut. Hassan will end her track season on Friday running at the Diamond League in Brussels.