Kenya’s man of all surfaces Geoffrey Kamworor will battle history and a rich field of runners on Sunday when he defends his TCS New York City Marathon.
No one has won the Big Apple consecutively in the last 20 years but Kamworor, aged just 25, has proven himself a tough competitor and defied odds in the past. He has three consecutive IAAF Half Marathon Championships, three World Cross Country titles and a 2:06.12 marathon Personal Best (PB) from 2012.
Sunday’s elite men field comprises nine Olympians, three marathon Majors winners and three athletes with sub 2 :04 credentials. Kamworor must lower his 2:10:53 winning time of last year or risk being ousted by the stellar cast vying for the lucrative race title.
Leading the onslaught on the Big Apple is 2017 London Marathon winner Daniel Wanjiru. The 26-year-old Kenyan is hungry for redemption after finishing a disappointing eighth in London in April.
Victory in New York would greatly repair his damaged ego after London. Another Kenyan on the prowl is Shadrack Biwott who finished third in London this year. Biwott is angling for faster times and hoping to improve his ranking, hopefully for second or first on Sunday.
“My aim is to make progress so if I placed third in London I should aim for better in my next race and that is what I’m focusing on. To better London,” he said.
Two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia who was a third-place finisher in New York last year is among the fastest on Sunday’s cast. Aged 28, Desisa clocked 59:52 in a half marathon in September as he also pursues redemption from the DNF from Boston this year.
Shura Kitata, the 2018 London Marathon first runner-up adds to the strong Ethiopian cast angling for the big Apple. Twenty-seven-year-old Tamirat Tola who set his 2:04:06 in Dubai but failed to finish in Boston adds to a long list of athletes determined to save face on Sunday.
Bernard Lagat of USA will make his marathon debut aged 43 but the former Kenyan track star has equally defied odds and astounded many with incredible feats on track and tarmac.
Three-time champion Mary Keitany of Kenya will look to reclaim her crown this year in the open division but must contend with Vivian Cheruiyot who conquered London earlier in the year.
Keitany, 36, is the women’s only marathon record holder who finished as runner-up at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon after having won the race each of the three previous years.
“I was disappointed not to defend my title last year, but I was not 100 per cent healthy and Shalane ran a strong race. I am happy for her historic win. When I came back to New York to win the NYRR New York Mini 10km in June, I showed that I am still in top shape. I will train harder than ever to win my fourth TCS New York City Marathon title in November,” Keitany said
Cheruiyot revved up the Sunday showdown: “I am very excited to make my first appearance in the New York marathon on November 4. I know as the London Marathon champion, the other athletes will be watching me and it will not be easy, but I aim to keep my marathon winning streak alive in New York.”