Rionotukei, Koech lead Kenya charge at China’s Hangzhou Marathon

NAIROBI, Nov 3 (Xinhua) – -Kenya’s Chemtai Rionotukei will be eyeing her fifth win in China on Sunday when she races at the Hangzhou Marathon.

Rionotukei is among the seven Kenyans who will be targeting to conquer the Hangzhou course.

The 32-year-old Kenyan won the Dongguan Marathon in 2016 and set her best time of 2:26:30 in May when she finished second at the Yellow River Estuary International Marathon in Dongying, China’s Shandong province.

The Kenyan also set the Taiyuan Marathon course record of 2:29:36 last year and went on to finish as the runner-up in the same race in September. Now she is determined to improve her time and win the Hangzhou Marathon on Sunday.

“I love running in China. It has very good course and it inspires me to bring out my best. In Hangzhou, a lot of focus will be on me, but I have come to get used to that. I hope we will have fast pace setters and see who will follow me through the course to 30km,” said Rionotukei on Saturday.

The Kenyan will be up against Ethiopia’s Hirut Tibedu, the Shanghai Marathon bronze medalist and Nastassia Ivanova of Belarus.

The field also includes Ethiopia’s Tsehay Desalegn, who finished third in Hangzhou last year in 2:28:35, as well as Nancy Koech of Kenya, former winner of the Munster, Copenhagen, Mombasa, and Malaga marathons.

“I believe the chance to win in Hangzhou is real and I will want to grab it. I have enough experience and though we have some fast runners, I believe in my own training and strength. I always plan and run my own race using my own strategy and in Hangzhou it will be the same,” said Koech.

In the men’s race, defending champion Ethiopia’s Azmeraw Bekele will put up his title on the line and several Kenyans will be keen to dethrone him led by 31-year-old Edwin Kibet Koech. Bekele holds the course record at 2:10:33 from last year’s win.

Since his marathon debut in 2014, Koech has remained consistent. He registered his career best time of 2:08:17 three years ago from his fifth place finish in Eindhoven and went on to win at the 2016 Linz Marathon in 2:09:06. His most recent performance at the Dalian International Marathon six month ago saw him break the course record by winning in 2:09:44.

Kenya’s Geoffrey Ronoh, who will turn 36, will also toe the line. The 2:09:29 performer has yet to run in any marathon in the current season but collected two half marathon titles in August and September respectively.

There is also Evans Sambu who has two wins in China at the Taiyuan and Shenzhen in 2016, Mike Kiprotich Mutai, former Hong Kong and Danzhou Marathon winner, and Edwin Kimaiyo.

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