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Bedan Karoki puts title on the line at RAK Half Marathon in Dubai 

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World half marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki of Kenya will be heading back to the United Arab Emirates in defence of his RAK Half Marathon title on Feb 9.

Karoki, who will also be in the Kenya team to the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain on March 24, will be using the race in UAE to gauge his preparedness ahead of the global contest.

“I have trained well and will use the rest of the week to polish on areas I need to work on. This race is important to me because I have to test my body and be ready for the World half Marathon,” Karoki said on Monday.

Karoki won last year’s event in a lifetime best of 59:10 minutes. But with 15 men able to boast sub-60-minute bests - two more than last year - his task to win again this year will be harder than ever.

No fewer than 29 men have now broken the 60-minute barrier on the sweeping loops of the RAK circuit. Of the four men who achieved the feat last year, three of them will return to Ras al-Khaimah.

Kenya will have 14 of the 18 elite athletes announced for the half marathon. World indoor 3,000m bronze medallist Augustine Choge, who clocked 59:26 to finish third last year in what was only his third half marathon, continues to seek experience before venturing to the full marathon.

Solomon Yego, who ran 58:44 on the downhill Rome-Ostia course in 2016 and finished fourth in Ras al-Khaimah last year in 59:50, is also out to wrest for the gold.

Others in the field include Ethiopia’s Guye Adola, who last year clocked the fastest debut marathon in history with 2:03:46, and Kenyan 20-year-old Jorum Lumbasi Okombo, whose 58:48 clocking from Copenhagen last year made him the second-fastest in the world for the distance in 2017.

Others to watch include 2014 RAK Half Marathon winner and two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa, the Ethiopian having won his past four half marathons, and 21-year-old compatriot Jemal Yimer, who finished fifth in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships last year and will be making his half-marathon debut.

The women’s field, which boasts similar depth, will be announced next week.



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