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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Kirui, Karoki relish Chicago marathon
challenge in battle against Farah

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan runners Geoffrey Kirui and Bedan Karoki may not be the top names at the Chicago marathon, but the duo are holding their cards close to their chest as they plot a surprise show on Oct 7.

Kirui, the 2017 Boston marathon champion, was pushed to second position in defense of his title in April while Karoki, who had finished third in last year’s London race, was fifth in the English capital clocking 2:08:34.

Now the two are relishing challenging the status quo in Chicago, albeit from an obscure position.

“The pressure is no longer on me like was the case in London. I can relax and focus on running my own race and leave the top names to choke each other out,” Wanjiru said on Tuesday from his training base in Eldoret.

Organizers have assembled together at least 11 men who have run two hours and seven minutes or faster, including past champions Abel Kirui and Dickson Chumba.

They will face off against Britain’s Mo Farah, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Paul Lonyangata, Kirui, Karoki, Stephen Sambu and Augustine Choge.

“We have put together an exciting elite field, and it should be a fast race to the top of the podium,” said Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski.

“This year’s elite field is a collection of some of the best international athletes running on the global stage today. We are confident that they will continue the great tradition of memorable and record setting performances in Chicago,” he added.

Karoki, a two-time Olympian in the 10,000m, is an exciting athlete who made his marathon debut in 2017.

Prior to jumping to the marathon, he spent nearly a decade polishing his speed on the track, representing Kenya three times in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships.

“I still need to learn more in marathon. But I have high hopes of doing well in Chicago. Training is going on well with no injury concerns,” said Karoki.

Kipkemoi boasts the 25th fastest time in history over the half marathon distance, 59:01, and he started 2018 with a successful marathon debut, running 2:05:44 to win the Rotterdam Marathon.

On the other hand, Lonyangata missed a spot in the top three in Chicago in 2016, coming home in fourth after enduring uneven pace swings.

He set his personal best, 2:06:10, while winning the 2017 Paris Marathon, and he welcomed 2018 by becoming the first back-to-back winner of the Paris Marathon in nearly two decades.

However, Kirui experienced a significant career breakthrough when he won the laurel wreath at the 2017 Boston Marathon, shaking off American Galen Rupp to victory.  

That win set him up for the 2017 IAAF World Marathon Championships, where he was eighth.

Kirui returned to Boston in to defend his title in April, but he failed to match the strides of a hard charging Yuki Kawauchi and he was forced to settle for second.

October marks Kirui’s second attempt in Chicago, where he had made his marathon debut in 2014, but he dropped out of the race.  

           

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