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Kiplagat, Saina lead Kenya quest for
honour at Marugame Half Marathon   

NAIROBI  (Xinhua) -- Kenyan female runners Edna Kiplagat and Betsy Saina will have little respect for each other as they line up in Japan for the Marugame Half Marathon on Sunday.

Kiplagat and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea head the men’s and women’s entries.

The two Kenyan runners face a dry run as they are due to meet at the Boston marathon course in April and are using the race in Japan to gauge their fitness.

“I have doing long runs and cross country since December and this will be the first serious competition for me,” said Kiplagat. “I have to see what shape my body is in before I adjust ahead of the Boston marathon in April.”

Kiplagat, a former two-time world marathon champion, and Saina are the standout names in the women’s race along with Sara Hall from the United States.

Kiplagat, who last year earned the silver medal in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships just three months before turning 38, will also be making her Marugame debut. In December she was crowned the World Marathon Majors champion pocketing 500,000 US dollars.

Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi, a three-time winner in Marugame, is also in the field, along with compatriots Michi Numata and Mai Ito.

In the men’s race, Eritrea’s world half marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese heads the entry-list. Tadese will face a line-up including Japan based Kenyan Bernard Kimani (60:05) and Japanese record-holder Yuta Shitara (60:17). The Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label road race.

The Eritrean, a five-time world half marathon champion, set the world record of 58:23 back in 2010 and will be competing in Marugame for the first time in his long and distinguished career. He will face the likes of Kenyan quartet Bernard Kimani, Dominic Kiptarus, Wilson Kiprono Too and Moses Kibet.

The Kenyans who were overlooked in the selection of the World Half Marathon team in Valencia, Spain on March 24, will put everything on the line as they seek to tame their Eritrean rival.

Local fans will be hoping that national record-holder Yuta Shitara, or indeed compatriots Kenta Murayama and Keijiro Mogi, will become the first Japanese athletes in 12 years to win the men’s race in Marugame.

Elsewhere, former champion Abraham Kiplimo from Uganda (2:09:23) will be looking to regain his title in the Beppu-Oita Marathon on Sunday in Japan. The line-up also includes Kenya’s Josphat Leting (2:09:34) while Hayato Sonoda (2:10:40) and Taiga Ito (2:10:52) are among the top home runners in action.



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