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Over 20,000 runners to compete at Nairobi International Marathon

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Fast times and opportunities to showcase their talent will inspire over 20,000 runners to compete in Sunday’s Nairobi International Marathon.

With a new route in place, organizers are keen to improve on last year’s record of 2:12.39 set by Brimin Kipruto, who has announced he will skip his title defense and instead work on winning the Athens Marathon next month.

Former champion Reuben Siwa Kipruto said on Thursday that he believes he has the experience and stamina to run for a podium finish against a rich field that has many runners keen to display their raw talent.

“Nothing is assured with the Nairobi Marathon,” said Kipruto, “Unlike other big city marathons, where elite runners have the upper hand, in Nairobi everyone is a star and on their day they can win the race. But I hope to repeat my success since winning here in 2014.”

Kipruto also believes that the cool weather in Nairobi will help improve his time.

“It is wet and cold at the moment in Nairobi and if it remains this way until Sunday, expect fast time,” he added.

Kipruto will be up against Julius Kiprono Tarus, the winner of the Brussels Marathon, William Ekai (2:20.53) and Sammy Kipkorir (2:17.03).

In the women’s race, the onus will be on Naomi Jepkorir to prove her credential after she recently obliterated the field to conquer the Nanjing Lishui Half Marathon within 1:17.05.

It will be the second time she runs in Nairobi and Jepkorir is aiming for her maiden victory in Kenya’s premier road race where the champions will walk home with 15,000 U.S. dollars.

She will be up against 2016 Rock and Roll Madrid Marathon fifth place finisher Sylvia Jemeli.

In the half marathon distance, Beijing Marathon champion Valary Ayaibei will be back to defend her title at home.

Ayaibei, who has said she is keen to compete at the World Marathon Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019, will give the selectors a chance to see her live in action.

Ayaibei clocked 2:21:38 to become the first Kenyan woman to win the Beijing Marathon, ending the Ethiopian reign.



Kenya’s Korikwiang targets Valencia Half Marathon crown

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Pauline Korikwiang will return to Spain hoping to win the Valencia Half Marathon in her second attempt on Sunday.

Korikwiang, 30, was beaten to second place at the Valencia 15km road race in June, posting a fastest time of 47:57.

However, she hopes that she has the energy to add another cut to her collections after winning the Bucharest Half Marathon with a time of 70:07 in May.

She leads five other Kenyans in the race including Edith Chelimo, Risper Chebet, Diana Chemutai, Mary Wacera  (the world half marathon bronze medalist) Caroline Rotich and Ines Chenonge.

“I have done well in training and am certain to do well in Valencia. This is part of my preparations for the World Championships, where I hope to do well in the 10,000m race,” Korikwiang said on Thursday.

The Kenyans will have to face stiff challenges from the Ethiopian delegation led by Kajela Diriba, Helen Tola and Gelete Burka.

In the men’s race, defending champion Abraham Cheroben of Bahrain will strive to defend his title against an elite team of 30 athletes with 14 of them having run under 60 minutes. Cheroben won last year’s race clocking 59:11.

The Kenyan challenge will be led by Jorum Okombo Lumbasi (58:48), Solomon Yego (58:44), Mangata Ndiwa (59:09), Abraham Kiptum (59:09) and Josphat Boit (59:19) with the Ethiopian brigade led by Yemal Yimer (59:00), Belihu Berta (59:51) and Getaneh Molla (60:18).


Valentine Kipketer confident of winning Frankfurt marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Former Mumbai and Amsterdam marathon champion Valentine Kipketer from Kenya is facing a strong challenge with confidence towards Sunday’s Frankfurt marathon.

The 25-year-old will be racing in his second marathon this season after winning the Madrid’s Rock & Roll marathon in April clocking 2:30:40.

However, she will face headwinds, especially from her countrywomen led by Paris marathon champion Betsy Saina (2:22:56), Nancy Kiprop (2:24:18), Janet Rono (2:26:03) and Sylvia Medugu (2:29:09) for the title.

“It will be my first time to run in Frankfurt,” said Kipketer on Thursday in Nairobi. “But that does not mean I am afraid. Events of this caliber have strong women and for me to win, I must be at the top of my game. My training has gone well and I feel I have the extra energy to destroy the opposition.”

In March Kipketer was in position 12 at the Kilimanjaro Half marathon, but she recovered to go for the gold in Madrid.

But after recovery from the Madrid exhaustion, Kipketer believes her training has been strong and challenging enough to propel her to another win in Germany city.

“The idea is to leave a lasting mark on the heart of Germans and to do so, I need to win this race. Many have not believed in me, but I know what I have done in training and what strategy to use in Frankfurt,” said Kipketer.

With a personal best time of 2:23:02 from her win in Amsterdam in 2013, Kipketer wants to improve on the time, but that will only come if she has wrapped up the victory.

“The important thing is to win. I have strong opponents who will push me all through the course. So time will just fall into place,” she added.

Saina is the fifth fastest in the elite women’s field with a personal best time of 2:22:56 behind a quartet of Ethiopians led by Mare Dibaba (2:19:52) and Haftamnesh Tesfay (2:20:13).

The men’s line-up is headed by Kenya’s Wilson Chebet (2:05:27) and Ethiopia’s Kelkile Gezahegn (2:05:56).



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