Kenyans in hunt for glory at China's Hengshui International Marathon

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-28 23:37:44|Editor: yan
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By John Kwoba

NAIROBI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Six Kenyans, four men and two women, will be on mark to try and conquer the Hengshui International Marathon in China on Saturday.

With organisers keen to record fast times, the four men running under the Kenyan flag - Bernard Kiprotich Too, Michael Njenga Kunyuga, Alfonce Kibiwot Kigen and Abraham Akopesha - have the perfect resume to clock under two hours and 10 minutes.

"Looking at top athletes like Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and what he did in Berlin is what makes me want to set my own record. I hope I can get less than two hours and ten minutes timing in Hengshui if the weather permits, but winning is the most important thing," said Too on Thursday in Nairobi.

A total of eight runners in the men's elite list have recorded a fast time of 2:10:51 and below, which promises to offer fireworks in quest for fast time.

Kenya's Too is the fastest on paper with 2:09:47, which he recorded in March on his way to win at the Brescia Marathon in Italy. It will be his first time running, the 25-year old will be running in China.

Kenya's Michael Njenga Kunyuga, 30, also had a marathon victory to his name in 2017 as he registered a convincing 2:10:43 win in Italian town of Padua five months ago.

Throw in Bonsa Dida of Ethiopia who was third at the Mumbai Marathon in January and clocked 2:10:16 to win the Mardrid Marathon title in April and the threat to Markos Geneti's course record of 2:07:38 set in 2014 becomes real.

The field also includes Kenya's Alfonce Kibiwot Kigen (2:10:24) fourth in Vienna, and Abraham Akopesha, who was in position 11 in Paris with 2:10:12 on his marathon debut.

Hicham Laqouahi of Morocco will be targeting his first marathon title on Saturday after clocking 2:10:24 to finish second in Marrakech earlier this year.

The organisers have also assembled a deep field in the women's race but it appears as though the course record of 2:25:43 set by Kenya's Agnes Kiprop in 2015 may not be challenged this year.

With a personal best time of 2:27:17 from 2011, Kenya's Peninah Arusei leads the cast. The 38-year-old has a better record at the half marathon, having earned a bronze medal at the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and finished fifth in the same competition two years earlier.

Arusei's best marathon performance in recent three years was a second-place finish in Warsaw last year with a 2:29:21 clocking.

She competed in the Yellow River Estuary International Marathon in Dongying this year and finished fifth in 2:33:10.

Tigist Memuye and Tizita Terecha of Ethiopia plus Nancy Jebet of Kenya are the other stars to look out for.