Kenyan athletes chase ‘Virgin Money’ in London Marathon

By JONATHAN KOMEN: Thursday, April 20th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Kenya athletes at the 2016 Chicago Marathon Abel Kirui, of Kenya, wins the Chicago Marathon, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It’s a do-or-die when the 37th Virgin London Marathon gets underway on Sunday.

Kenya has produced the winner of the men’s London Marathon 11 times in past last 13 years and their dominance in the race doesn’t look likely to subside in the showdown on Sunday morning –despite a classy field that features Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the world’s second fastest marathoner of all time.

Chicago Marathon’s flat course has 31 turns; New York City has 26 turns, Boston has three turns while Berlin’s flat course has 17 turns.

Abel Kirui, the two-time world marathon champion, returns to London streets after bagging silver in 2012 London Olympics and is out to re-affirm his comeback.

He staged a splendid comeback on his return since 2012, winning Chicago Marathon last October.

Kirui longs to perform well and pick the bragging rights to the IAAF World Championships that runs in London on August 4-12.

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“I have prepared well. This is race is critical as I really want to make the team for the world championships. I will work hard and give it my best. The weather here in London looks good and hope it remains good on Sunday,” Kirui told Standard Sports on phone from London yesterday.

Interestingly, Kirui and Bekele are managed by Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communications in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

It will be a perfect mix if Kirui does well and gets Athletics Kenya’s call up for London Worlds with Boston Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat –the duo who have won IAAF World Championships twice.

London Marathon, which marks the start of 2017/2018 Abbott World Marathon Majors series, is run on a flat course that has 19 turns and Kirui (2:05.04) faces a mountain Bekele, who has 2:03.03 set in Berlin last year.

They will square it out with Ethiopians Tesfaye Abera (2:04.24), Feyisa Lilesa (2:04.52) and Tilahun Regassa (2:05.27) alongside Amsterdam Marathon winner Daniel Wanjiru (2:05.21).

Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (2:07.46), the world marathon champion and Abraham Tadesse (2:06:40) of Switzerland are also in the mix.

Mary Keitany, the three-time New York Marathon winner, also longs to become first woman to win London Marathon three times as she chases the ‘Virgin Money’.