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Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor eyes defense of New York Marathon   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The prospect of running a personal best time is what drives Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor as he puts his title on the line at the New York Marathon on November 4.

The defending champion has run sparingly this year, competing only at the World Half Marathon in Valencia in March which he won for a record third consecutive time.

However, that will mean nothing as Kamworor faces his challengers in New York.

“Racing once more in the New York City Marathon means so much to me,” said the three-time world cross-country champion.

“It is my favorite race, and although thousands of miles separate my training base in Kaptagat, Kenya from New York, the event feels like home.”

Kamworor will be joined by women’s defending champion Shalane Flanagan of the United States in the IAAF Gold Label road race, which is a World Marathon Major (WMM) event. The other five big city marathons are in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin and Chicago.

At last year’s race, Kamworor claimed his first major marathon victory, while Flanagan became the first U.S. woman to win in New York since Miki Gorman did so in 1977.

Kamworor held off compatriot Wilson Kipsang down the final turns to win last year. The 2015 runner-up separated himself from the field with a 4:31 penultimate mile to finish in 2:10:53.

Kamworor has won the past three IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and has run the marathon in less than two hours and seven minutes three times at the Berlin Marathon from 2012 to 2014, with his 2:06:12 performance from 2012 remaining his personal best.

“The goal is to try to run faster and see if I can challenge my personal best. But equally important is for me to win the race and plan for the 2019 World Championships,” said Kamworor in Eldoret on Wednesday.

In the women’s race, Flanagan ended a 40-year drought for U.S. women at the 2017 New York City Marathon by seizing victory from Kenya’s Mary Keitany in a time of 2:26:53.

With her first victory in just her second appearance at the New York City Marathon - she was runner-up in her marathon debut in 2010 - Flanagan became the sixth U.S. women’s champion in the event.

The 16-time national champion and Olympic silver medalist will join previously announced Des Linden, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, and Allie Kieffer, the fifth-place finisher at last year’s New York City Marathon.

“When I think about returning to race in New York City, I’m flooded with magical memories,” said Flanagan.

“My heart skips a beat, I get butterflies in my stomach, and my palms get sweaty. New York City is incredibly special to me. It’s where I ran my first marathon in 2010, placing second, and of course, my dream-come-true moment in 2017 when I won.”

Keitany, who has not raced since finishing fourth at the London Marathon in April, is yet to announce her next race. However, New York remains one of her target events.

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