By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- New York Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya has sounded out his rivals saying he is on course to successfully defend his World Half Marathon crown in Valencia in a month's time.
Kamworor, who won the Kenya national cross country championships in Nairobi on Saturday, says he is happy with his preparations.
"My preparation is good and after winning national cross country, there is nothing stopping me now. No Injury, or any other concern, my fitness is great. I'm expecting a great result at the World Half marathon," he said on Monday.
Kamworor also lauded the great preparations his compatriot and World Half silver medalist Bedan Karoki has shown.
Karoki worked hard to successfully retain his RAK Half marathon title in the United Arab Emirates and will be joining Kamworor in Valencia to try and improve on his second place finish.
"Congrats are in order for my friend and compatriot Bedan Karoki. Let us make it happen in Valencia," he added.
Both athletes however stayed clear of committing themselves to attack the world record set by Eritrean Zersanay Tadese in 2010 of 58:23.
Tadese, the winner of four world half marathon titles, eclipsed the mark of 58:33 set by Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru in 2007.
However, Kamworor is keen to clinch his third world half marathon title in Valencia and hopefully see the world record fall in place.
"I do not target to go for the world record, but I intend to run fast time. Should it fall within the world record, then so be it. But my focus is to win in fast time," added Kamworor.
Only Karoki has come close to the world record in recent times having run 58:42 at the RAK half marathon race last week. But that is still 19 seconds off the mark. Kamworor's best time is back from 2013 also in UAE of 58:54.
Kamworor won the World Half Marathon on his first attempt in 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark in a championship record time of 59:08 before retaining the crown at 2016 Cardiff in 59:10, the second fastest time in the championship.
Karoki settled for silver in 59:36 in Cardiff to relegate Briton Mo Farah to third in 59:59.
Others in Kenya team are Jorum Okombo, Leonard Barsaton and Barselius Kipyego. In the same event, Kenyan women made history sweeping the podium places.
The winner Peres Jepchirchir and silver medallist Cynthia Jerotich didn't make the team. However, Kenya will have world half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei as the team anchor.
Jepkosgei, who broke the world half marathon record twice last year, will be returning to Valencia, the course where she broke the world half marathon record last on October 22 in a new time of 1 hour, 04 minutes and 51 seconds.
Jepkosgei was a distant sixth in last week's RAK Half marathon in UAE, but still hopes to win in Valencia. She will be accompanied by Fancy Chemutai, who won in UAE, Ruth Chepng'etich, Pauline Kaveke and Mary Wacera.