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On hunting mission: Kenyans set for London Marathon conquest

By - JONATHAN KOMEN | April 13th 2014


Geoffrey Mutai crosses the finish line to win the 2014 New York City Half Marathon last month. Mutai will lead a group of Kenyan athletes to the London Marathon on Sunday.

Kenya’s battalion of elite runners left yesterday for Sunday’s London Marathon with big dreams.

Billed as the best ever field assembled at the race, the Kenyans are burning with insatiable hunger for glory in the United Kingdom’s flagship 42km contest.

The line-up has Olympic and World medalists all keen to improve their ranking at the World Marathon Majors alongside winning the prize money in London.

Also at stake will be the quest to convince the coaches to select them for the  Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to August 3.

Two of Kenya’s best 42-kilometre talents – former London champion and Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang (2:03.23) and former World Marathon Majors winner Geoffrey Mutai (2:03.02) – will battle it out in the former colonial master’s pearl.

Uganda’s Olympic and World Marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich (2:07.20), two-time World champion Abel Kirui, London Marathon course record holder  Emmanuel Mutai (2:04:40) and defending champion Tsegaye Kebede (2:04.23) of Ethiopia are also in the mix.

Impresive record

Mutai (Geoffrey), who won New York last year, will be making his second stab in London, having won New York and Chicago marathons in 2011.

Kiprotich, who won the World championships in Moscow, will walk a tight rope in his bid to prove that his victories at the World and Olympics were no fluke. But he looked ready for yet another golden mission.

“I always train, eat, laugh and walk with Kenyans. They are my good friends. I feel so great when competing with them and competing in London is no different,” Kiprotich said after completing his morning run in Kaptagat on Monday.

Emmanuel Mutai, who has finished second in seven big city marathons, wants a second bite in London.

“The field in London looks very strong and I need to prepare for the tough competition. I made a mistake last year and just went to London to give a try,” said Mutai.

But Kirui said he had recovered well from the injury that ruled him out of last year’s contest.

“I want to be back after disappointing my fans last year,” said Kirui.

The women’s race boasts of Olympic medalists Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia (2:18:58) and New York Marathon winner Priscah Jeptoo (2:20:14); World Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat (2:19.50) and debutant Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, a multiple Olympic medalist.

The die is cast with two-time Berlin Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat and world record holder Paula Radcliffe in the line-up.

Edna Kiplagat, who has made four appearances in London but without a win, said she banks on experience.

“I know the London Marathon course well. I want to win this year and I think it will not be easy for Dibaba to run the show as she does on the tracks. Marathon is four times bigger than her 10,000m speciality,” said Kiplagat. 

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