Kenya’s top female marathon runners Mary Keitany and Jemimah Sumgong will both seek to conquer the RAK Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates on Feb. 10.
The two women are both preparing for the London marathon on April 23, and the contest at the RAK Half Marathon will serve as a test run ahead of that crucial battle.
Sumgong, who is the Rio Olympic marathon champion, last beat Keitany, the winner at the New York marathon, during their last contest in London in April of last year.
However, Keitany blamed her loss, her only one in the last three marathons, to a fall at a water point.
The fall cost Keitany the chance to compete in the Rio Olympics. She ended up ninth in a race that Sumgong dominated. Now the two will have a case to each prove their fitness, but the Olympic champion says she does not expect an easy race.
“It will not be easy but I have done my training and am looking forward to see how I will fare on. This race is important to test my fitness and see what I need to do ahead of London marathon,” Sumgong said on Wednesday from Eldoret.
At the RAK Half Marathon, Sumgong will also be tested by three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, reigning IAAF World Half Marathon Champion Peres Jepchirchir, and course record holder and three-time New York Marathon champion Keitany, who set a world record time of 65:50 in 2011.
Eight women in the line-up have run times under 68 minutes. For the men, Patrick Makau’s 58:52 record set in 2009 could be under serious threat, with two of the pacemakers being sub-60 minute performers themselves.
Stanley Biwott returns after his second-place finish last year. Eritrea’s Nguse Amlosom took 3rd last year, and Bahrain’s Abraham Cheroben 4th. Also competing is Daniel Wanjiru, the Amsterdam Marathon winner last October and RAK runner-up in 2015.
However, perhaps the most fascinating addition to the field is Kenya’s Augustine Choge, who in only his second-ever half marathon in New Delhi last November, placed third in a tantalizing 60:01, and who says he feels that he’s only scratched the surface of his potential. Enditem