NAIROBI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ezekiel Chebii said he is keen to defend his title in the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon on March 4 in Japan after missing out on the World Half Marathon team.
Chebii, who holds a personal best time of 2:06:07, will face a line-up including Switzerland's Tadesse Abraham (2:06:40), Ethiopia's Abera Kuma (2:05:56) and Italy's European marathon champion Daniele Meucci (2:10:56).
Last year, Chebii led compatriot Vincent Kipruto to a 1-2 finish in the men's race edging out Ugandan Solomon Mutai to third place timed at 2:09:59.
"I was hoping to run under two hours and six minutes but the last half of the race was quite difficult with wind. Hopefully this year it will present better weather and fast pace setters because I intend to run fast time," Chebii said on Wednesday.
Leading domestic runners in the field include Satoru Sasaki (2:08:56), Takuya Noguchi (2:08:59) and Takuya Fukatsu (2:09:31) while New Zealand's Jake Robertson will make his marathon debut.
Meanwhile, in Rotterdam, Ethiopians Getu Feleke (2:04:50) and Mule Wasihun (2:05:39) are the fastest runners on paper for the Dutch Port city Marathon on April 8.
The lineup also includes five more runners with sub-2:07 best times including Kenyans Laban Korir (2:06:05), Marius Kipserem (2:06:11), Festus Talam (2:06:13), Felix Kirwa (2:06:13) and Ethiopia's Kelkile Gezahegh (2:06:56).