What you need to know:
- Inspired by Kipchoge’s Berlin win, ex-world champ seeks fast time on Sunday.
- Kirui will be up against US-based Stephen Sambu, world marathon record-holder Dennis Kimetto, former New York Marathon champion Stanley Biwott and Bernard Kipyego.
- In the ladies category, defending champion Florence Kiplagat will be battling it out with compatriot Valentine Kipketer and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba among others.
Former two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui is plotting to lower his course time for Sunday’s Chicago Marathon besides retaining his title in “Windy City.”
Kirui, who won the title last year in two hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds, told Nation Sport that he is looking forward to lowering the time.
“I have finished my training and I will be looking forward to doing well in the race where I want to lower my time and also retain my title,” said Kirui at his base in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
Athletics fans in Nandi County will watch the live race at a viewing party organised by the Bank of Africa who last month put together a similar forum for the Berlin Marathon in Eldoret.
Sunday’s party will be at the Stevenice Hotel on the Kapsabet-Nandi Hills road.
Kirui is part of Dutch outfit, NN Running Team, and has been training with his team-mate and Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge who won last month’s Berlin Marathon.
Also in the team is world cross country and half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor who is preparing for next month’s New York Marathon.
Kirui changed his base from Iten to Kaptagat, the latter which he said has been a good training area for him.
“I have really enjoyed training in Kaptagat because of the cool environment and Kipchoge’s win in Berlin has really motivated me to run well.
“When the Ethiopian tried to do something strange, Kipchoge became patient and I think I will also do that if something of the sort happens in Chicago,” said the former world champion.
The athlete traditionally went to his grandmother to get blessings before any race, but he says she died three years ago.
“I used to visit my grandmother in Kapsabet, Nandi County, to get her blessings, but I lost her three years ago. That does not stop me from winning,” he said.
Unlike other athletes who participate in a road races before going for the big race, Kirui decided to train fully before travelling to Chicago.
“I decided to concentrate on the big race instead of participating in a road race to gauge myself. I will run a good race and I ask Kenyans and my fans to pray for us,” he added.
Kirui won his World Championships titles in 2009 in Berlin and in 2011 (Daegu, South Korea) while in 2012 he won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in London.
The athlete said that after getting an injury which kept him out of competition for some time, he is now focused and last years’ win in Chicago motivated him to go for more.
He will be up against US-based Stephen Sambu, world marathon record-holder Dennis Kimetto, former New York Marathon champion Stanley Biwott and Bernard Kipyego.
In the ladies category, defending champion Florence Kiplagat will be battling it out with compatriot Valentine Kipketer and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba among others.