Battle beckons in Chicago as upbeat Kirui aims to defend crown


TRAIL-BLAZING:A proud Kirui celebrates with the Kenyan flag after conquest in a past race....
TRAIL-BLAZING:A proud Kirui celebrates with the Kenyan flag after conquest in a past race.He finished second in Sunday's Chicago Marathon.Image/Courtesy.

Having switched training bases to be in the company of the Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, Abel Kirui will hope to carry inspiration from the world’s fastest marathoner as he embarks on his Chicago Marathon title defence.

The two-time world champion claimed a memorable victory at the previous edition of the competition when he outpaced fellow countryman Dickson Chumba to win by just three seconds in 2:11:23hrs.

Stacked field

It was his first ever victory in a world marathon major race, and now the 35-year-old returns to American soil hoping to defend his title against a stacked field that includes world record holder and compatriot Dennis Kimetto.

Kirui has been training with his running teammate Kipchoge who won the Berlin Marathon last month and revealed he holds tremendous respect for him.

MAN OF THE MOMENT:Kirui enchants with hands stretched as he powers to the finish line.Kenyans will be hoping that the gods be kind to him as he navigates through the track on Sunday.
MAN OF THE MOMENT:Kirui enchants with hands stretched as he powers to the finish line.Kenyans will be hoping that the gods will be kind to him as he navigates through the track on Sunday.

“His discipline is his strength. Eliud is serious, but I’ve come to understand he is simply focused to achieve. He has made me a better athlete,” Kirui, who won world titles in 2009 and 2011, told Spikes.

The 2012 Olympic silver medallist who moved from his base in Iten to join the training camp in Kaptagat in June this year is motivated to be around and learn from Kipchoge who has won an astonishing eight of his last nine marathon starts.

“Eliud is very smart, far smarter than me. He is so organised. If he says dinner is at 7pm, dinner will be at 7pm. If it is time for sleeping, it is time for sleeping. He is always on time.

“His discipline is his strength. Eliud is serious, but I’ve come to understand he is simply focused to achieve,” Kirui said.

Kimetto, who posted a remarkable time of two 2:03:45hrs to win the 2013 edition, will look to dethrone Kirui when they line up on Sunday in the 40th edition of the Chicago event.

The 33-year-old will hope to return to the record-breaking heights that saw him run an astonishing 2:02:57hrs; a world record that has now survived two stabs from Kipchoge.

TOUGH GOING:Kiplagat is seen here in a file floor sitting on the floor fatigued after a past race.She carries Kenya's hopes in the women race.
TOUGH GOING: In this file photo Kiplagat is seen sitting on the floor fatigued after a past race.She carries Kenya’s hopes in the women race.

Kipchoge beat Kimetto’s record earlier this year at a race in Monza, Italy but his time of 2:00:25hrs was not ratified as a world record due to a pace-setting technicality.

Also in the race is Zersenay Tadese who will attempt to improve his 2:10:41 personal best. Tadese, was part of Nike’s audacious bid to produce the first human ever to run the ultimate distance under two hours in a project dubbed ‘Breaking2’.

No man from the team that included two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa and Kipchge broke the coveted barrier but the Kenyan did run the fastest ever marathon by a human.

Last year’s top female finisher Florence Kiplagat will face off with decorated Olympian and world-record holder Tirunesh Dibaba as well as compatriot Valentine Kipketer in her bid to hold on to her title.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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