Kenyan runners plot New York marathon conquest

NAIROBI, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — Defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor, last year’s runner-up Mary Keitany and Olympic champion Vivian Cheruiyot will be the athletes to beat in Sunday’s New York Marathon.

Kamworor, 26, has his eyes cast on making the Kenya team to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar while Cheruiyot has said her target is to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Both their dreams will be pegged on the performance in New York.

As a training partner of Eliud Kipchoge, who set the marathon world record of 2:01:39 in Berlin in September, Kamworor is confident of his form ahead of Sunday’s race.

“My preparation has gone on well as last year. It’s almost the same and so far, so good,” Kamworor said on Saturday.

“I believe in what I have done and I am ready to race. If I win, I will be the happiest man in the world because I will have won everything this year,” he added.

He has raced in Bangalore, India and United Arab Emirates winning in both races.

But he faces new challenge from Shura Kitata, who was second in London marathon in April clocking 2:04:49. Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru should also make his presence felt.

The 2017 London Marathon champion will be making his debut in New York. But so far this year the 26-year-old has been out of sorts, finishing eighth at the London Marathon in April and seventh at the Great North Run in September in 1:03:40.

Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa was runner-up in New York in 2016 and the two-time Boston Marathon champion will be hoping to go one better this time.

There is also Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola, the world marathon silver medalist, who ran 2:04:06 to finish third at the Dubai Marathon in January and Bernard Lagat, who will make his marathon debut and is targeting Meb Keflezighi’s US masters’ record of 2:12:20.

“Training is going wonderfully,” said the 43-year-old Kamworor. “I know the course is hard but it’s not all about place – for me it is about time.”

In women race, Keitany of Kenya believes her loss to Shalane Flanagan last year to deny her fourth title in New York has helped bring competition to the race and will be sweet revenge is she reclaims her title back.

“It opened up the race and other athletes believed they too can win,” said Keitany. “I always enter race with aim of winning and after my poor strategy in London, winning in New York will be better for me.”

Flanagan sealed a memorable win in last year’s race in 2:26:53 and to retain her title she will have to overcome Vivian Cheruiyot, an athlete she has faced on 11 occasions in the past and never beaten.

Cheruiyot won the London Marathon timed at 2:18:31. Now she warmed up to New York with win at the Great North Run in Newcastle. However, this will be Cheruiyot’s first time tackling the New York Marathon.

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