NAIROBI, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Former two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui of Kenya will compete in the Verona Half Marathon on Feb. 18 as part of his preparations for the London marathon in April.
Kirui, who trains in Kaptagat with former Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich and reigning champ Eliud Kipchoge, wants a fast course to test his speed and endurance.
"At this level of competition, it does not matter who will be named to run against you. The elite runners are all top names and will do everything to win. I will focus on doing my part and hope to run [a] fast time in Italy," Kirui said on Tuesday.
The Kenyan twice won the World Championship in the marathon event - in Berlin 2009 and in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.
He also won a silver medal in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympic Games when he crossed the line in 2:08:27 with training mate Stephen Kiprotich clinching gold with a time of 2:08:01.
In 2009 Kirui set a personal best time of 2:05:04 in marathons, which then made him the sixth fastest marathon runner in history.
However, there have been younger runners who have come up and run faster including Kipchoge, London champion Daniel Wanjiru and world record holder Dennis Kimetto.
In the half marathon distance, Kirui set a time of 60.11 in Rotterdam. He will try and see if he can break compatriot's Edwin Koech's course record of 60:24.
"I have to run [a] faster time and hopefully the course record will fall in place. This race is critical for me as I prepare for the London marathon," said Kirui.
Last year Kirui lost out in his defense of the Chicago marathon, finishing second. He remains undoubtedly one of the strongest athletes competing and the race in Verona will undoubtedly be improved by his presence.