NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Former Chicago marathon silver medalist Sammy
Kitwara of Kenya will face a daunting task in his quest to
conquer the Copenhagen half marathon on Sunday in Denmark.
Kitwara, who plots
to compete at the Chicago marathon in October, will come up
against defending champion Bedan Karoki and a horde of elite
Kenyan athletes as they target to lower the course record of the
marathon and make an attempt on the world record. Kitwara’s time
of 2:04:28 is the fastest he has run in the 42km distance.
“I have my focus on
the Chicago marathon and Copenhagen will be a good testing
ground to see where I am in my preparations. But it is important
to know that winning will be critical and I have what it takes
to claim the title,” Kitwara said on Wednesday in Nairobi.
It will be the first
time this year the two athletes will be meeting. It will also be
Karoki’s first race since finishing seventh in 10,000m at the
Rio Olympic Games.
Karoki, who is the
World Half Marathon and World Cross Country silver medallist,
leads this year’s strong field in pursuit of the world record of
58:23 set by the Eritrean Zersenay Tadese in Lisbon on March 21,
World Half Marathon
Championships held in Copenhagen in 2014 and the 2015 Copenhagen
Half Marathon in 2015 were won in record times.
Kamworor won the 2014 World Half Marathon in a championship
record time of 59:08 before Karoki, 26, swept to victory in
Copenhagen last year in a personal best of 59.14, only 51
seconds short of the world record.
In March, Karoki won
silver at the World Half Marathon in Cardiff after losing the
battle to Kamworor who defended his title.
“I have put behind
the Olympics woes having fully recovered from a hamstring injury
that impeded a good performance in Rio,” said Karoki, who is
based in Japan.
Other Kenyans tipped
to challenge Karoki for the title are Stephen Kosgei (58.54),
James Wangari (59.12), Leonard Komon (59.14), Sammy Kitwara
(59.47) and Matthew Kisorio (59.52).
Cheroben of Bahrain and Ethiopians Yigrem Demelash, Mosinet
Geremew and Berhanu Legesse will be eying to halt the Kenyan
dominance in the race.
finished fourth in the Olympic 10,000m in Rio, tried the half
marathon out for the first time in Milan and finished second by
five seconds behind Wangari in 59.49 minutes.
Chesir, who finished sixth at the 2016 World Half Marathon,
leads the women’s elite field with a personal best of 66.57.
Rionoripo won last year’s race in 1:08:29 beating Ethiopian
Sutume Asefa (1:08:47) and fellow Kenyan Lucy Kabuu (1:08:51).