Champ Kiptanui faces tough Ethiopian challenge at Ottawa Marathon

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Nairobi, May 25 (IANS) Champion Eliud Kiptanui from Kenya has warned his rivals to expect a fast race as he bids to hit two birds with one stone by winning the Ottawa Marathon in Canada with a new course record on Sunday.

The 33-year-old jetted out of Kenya on Friday optimistic about his chances to reign supreme in the race and stake his claim to the $30,000 first place prize, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, Kiptanui will have to endure an epic battle against another former champion: Ethiopia’s Yemane Tsegay, who set the men’s course record of 2:06:54 in 2014.

With a personal best of 2:05:21 recorded while finishing second in the 2015 Berlin Marathon, Kiptanui is capable of presenting a formidable challenge to Tsegay.

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“I know the focus will be on the course record with pressure on the Ethiopians. I have a plan and will run tactically in the first half and then open up in the final 15km. I target a new course record and if I may improve my personal best time, then it will be okay,” said Kiptanui.

Last year, Kiptanui was not even in the starting lineup for the Ottawa Marathon.

His focus was running at the Vienna City marathon. But a visa hitch left him no with choice but to arrive in the Austrian capital too late to run.

In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Tigist Tufa, the 2014 winner and course record holder in 2:24:31, has announced her withdrawal due to a persistent injury.

In her absence, her Ethiopian compatriot Gelete Burka is the class of the women’s field thanks to the stunning 2:20:45 personal best she ran in Dubai in January.

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The fact that she has won world and Olympic medals at distances from 1500m to 10,000m only enhances her reputation.

She will come out against compatriot Ethiopian Hiwot Gebrekidan and Sara Hall (2:27:21) of the US, who returns to action after missing the Boston Marathon due to injury.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Kenya’s Bernard Kimeli could challenge the course record of 27:24 at the Ottawa 10K.

Kimeli has a lifetime best of 27:10 set in Prague last year. The line-up also includes former winner Mohamed Ziani from Morocco and Ethiopian teenager Andamlak Belihu, who finished 10th in the 10,000m at the 2017 World Championships.

The women’s line-up is headed by Kenyans Edith Chelimo (31:07) and Gladys Kimaina (31:15).

–IANS

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