NAIROBI, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's former New York marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and John Mwangangi will lead a galaxy of Kenyan stars in this month's Lisbon half marathon in Portugal.
Kiplagat, who has recovered from the knee injury, which she suffered at the London Olympics Games last year, will be using the race as a build up ahead of next month's London Marathon.
However, Mwangangi, a bronze medalist at the World Half Marathon, will return to the Portuguese capital buoyant of stealing the victory from his opponents on March 25.
Mwangangi posted a time of 1:01:01 in Kavarna, Bulgaria, finishing third behind Eritrean Zersanay Tedese. The two will meet in Lisbon.
"After recovering from my injury, I decided to start training early. I want my body to be in the right shape and the police cross country championships proved just that to me."
"The cross-country in Nairobi served as a gauge and warm-up race for both Lisbon and London Marathon races, which are my main focus this season," Kiplagat said on Sunday in Nairobi.
With over 50,000 euros in bonus plus prize money on offer in Lisbon, several elite athletes are itching to get the call to compete in one of the hardest 21km road races in the world.
The main figure in the men's category is Zersenay Tadese, who in 2010 set the current world record of 58:23 in Lisbon.
The Eritrean will try to beat his own mark. But it will not be easy as he faces compatriot Teklemariam Medhin (silver medalist in the 2010 Cross Country Championships), Peter Kamahis (winner of the 2010 New York Half Marathon), Martin Lel (runner-up in the 2011 London Marathon and winner of the same competition in 2005, 2007 and 2008) and John Mwangngi (gold medalist in the 2011 African Cross Championships, in Cape Town, and winner of the Paris 20 km in 2010 and 2011).
In the women's category, Kiplagat will come up against some strong challengers including Dutchwoman Lornah Kiplagat (66:25), American Shalane Flanagan, the current record holder in 10,000m, bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics, Moroccan Nadia Ejaffinni.
Kenyan opponents are Peninah Arusei, the winner of 2010 Lisbon Half Marathon and third place in the 2010 World Half Marathon in Nanning City in China.
Throw in, Rita Jeptoo, bronze medalist at Boston marathon and Olympic silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo.