Kenya legion to storm Spain, targets Barcelona marathon throne

NAIROBI, March 8 (Xinhua) — A powerful Kenyan team will try to better the men’s race record of 2:07:30 and reclaim the women’s title at Sunday’s Barcelona marathon.

Kenyan Laban Korir, who boasts a career best of 2:05:54, will start as one of the main favorites.

The 33-year-old has shown fine consistency since the Amsterdam run 2016, clocking 2:05:58 in Rotterdam and 2:06:33 in Amsterdam last year.

“I know many will want to edge me out and ruin my party, but I dare them, am equal to the task and will let the legs do the talking,” he warned on Friday.

Defending champion Anthony Maritim will try to succeed again but his lifetime best of 2:08:08 set here last year might not be enough.

The fastest man in the field is Eliud Kiptanui, holder of a 2:05:21 PB set in Berlin 2015. He’s hoping to improve on his last effort of 2:14:15 in Xiamen last January to be in the hunt for victory.

Race record holder Jackson Kotut will also be in contention although the 31-year-old Kenyan has not run under 2:10 since 2010, his last outing being a 2:13:08 run from Casablanca last October.

Other Kenyans in contention include Laban Mutai (2:07:38) and Philemon Kacheran (2:09:13).

The Ethiopian challenge will be led by the in-form Abebe Negewo, fresh from a runner-up finish at the Barcelona Half Marathon four weeks ago.

The 31-year-old will try to improve on his lifetime best of 2:08:41 while his compatriot Limeni Getachew, holder of a 2:06:49 PB, should also be a factor.

With a race record the goal, four pacemakers have been employed to better 2:07:30. Sammy Niokaye will take the field through the first half, with fellow Kenyan Ezekiel Chepkorom taking over until 25 kilometers and Ezekiel Mutai and Roland Korir forging on until the 30km checkpoint.

In the women’s contest, Kenya’s Jackline Chepngeno will be the athlete to beat. The 26-year-old is the fastest in the field thanks to her 2:24:38 performance in Amsterdam last October.

“I hope to win in Barcelona and boost the chances of making the Kenya team to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar,” she said.

Three other runners in the field have gone under 2:30, all from Ethiopia: Aberash Fayesa (2:27:04), 2018 Malaga Marathon winner Meseret Abebayehu (2:29:14) and Tigist Teshome, winner in Castellon last year in a lifetime best of 2:29:57.

Kenya’s Michael Mutai and Spain’s Marc Roig – the pacemaker who led Florence Kiplagat to her half marathon world record performances in 2014 and 2015 in Barcelona – have been asked to pace again.

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