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Road runners Habtamu, Keneni set to spice up Saturday’s event

Sandra Wekesa @PeopleSports11

Seasoned Ethiopian road runners Habtamu Asefa Wakeyo and Keneni Germame Korme will grace this year’s Lotto Baringo Half Marathon that will take place in Kabarnet this weekend.

Habtamu and Keneni will compete in the men’s and women’s 21-kilometre races, respectively, as part of an exchange programme between organisers of the Lotto Baringo Half Marathon and the Great Ethiopian Run.

The two Kenyan athletes for November 26 Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s biggest road race with over 35,000 runners, will be unveiled after this Saturday’s Half Marathon from a shortlist of upcoming runners and also factoring in the performances at the race.

Baringo Half Marathon founder and patron, Paul Tergat said: “We are excited to once again have our neighbours and friendly rivals, from Ethiopia travelling to Baringo for the race. Going by their performances, Habtamu and Keneni will indeed give our local runners some good workout on Saturday.”

Interestingly, while Tergat is the founder of the Baringo Half Marathon, his former rival on the road Haile Gebrselassie started the Great Ethiopian Run and while the latter took up management, being elected president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation a year ago, the former also ventured into sports administration and was last month voted in as National Olympic Committee of Kenya boss.

The Ethiopian running pedigree is never in doubt and the times posted by Habtamu and Keneni make for interesting reading, the former having clocked a personal best 28 minutes in the 10-kilometre road race in 2013 and 61:00 in the half marathon in France in the same year.

In the full marathon, Habtamu clocked 2:08:28 for a ninth place finish at the 2013 Dubai Marathon and has been a regular podium finisher in Ethiopian road races at altitude. Keneni’s personal best time in the half marathon is 68:00 which she clocked in India this year.

She has a PB of 36:00 in the 10-kilomtre race clocked at last year’s Great Ethiopian Run where she finished fourth. This year’s edition of the Baringo Half Marathon received an increased backing of Sh5 million from title sponsors, the Lotto Foundation, an increase from the Sh4 million given by the lottery company for the annual race last year. The course has slightly changed with the starting point around Timboiywo and the finish at Kabarnet.

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