By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Former world record marathon holder Wilson Kipsang of Kenya jetted out of the country on Tuesday night for Japan where he is expected to defend his Tokyo marathon title on Sunday.
Kipsang, 35, is almost getting to the cliff of his illustrious career as a marathoner.
However, before it dusks on his career, he wants to reclaim back the world marathon record, which he lost in 2014 to compatriot Dennis Kimetto (2:02.57).
Victory for Kipsang will see him pocket 80,000 U.S. dollars while a world record time will secure him further 300,000 dollars in bonus.
Kipsang as the defending champion and leading athlete is entitled to appearance fees in excess of 100,000 dollars.
That will be part of his mission as he seeks to defend his crown on Sunday in the Japanese capital, which has seen the marathon organizers change to a flat course in a bid to inspire faster times from the elite runners.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kipsang said he has his training done and is ready for the big task having failed in a similar mission six months ago in Berlin, where he pulled out of the race after 30km.
"Serious face, means serious business ahead. Tokyo is calling and I'm travelling with my brother Noah Kiprotich and my son David Kiplagat," he said.
Since his debut eight years ago, Kipsang has been an integral part of the marathon establishment. Of the 19 races he has competed in, he has won nine, including New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin and Frankfurt.
Kipsang is the only runner to have finished under 2:04 four times - between 2013 and 2017 over a period of three and a half years.
Kipsang ran the fastest time on Japanese soil clocking 2:03:58 on his way to victory last year. Now he has his eyes fixed on Kimetto's mark and hopes the weather and all other conditions will be perfect as he launches his attack.
"I had intention to run fast on a new course in Tokyo last year, which I did. But it was almost a minute too slow compared to the world record. I want to see if I can be able to achieve that time on Sunday with my pacemakers," he said.
To race Kipsang down to the finish line include compatriots Amos Kipruto, the Seoul Marathon champion, former Tokyo Marathon champion Dickson Chumba and 2016 Mumbai Marathon champion Gideon Kipketer.
Others are former Frankfurt and Paris Marathon champion, Vincent Kipruto and 2015 Amsterdam Marathon champion Bernard Kipyego.
"That line-up as always is exceptional and that is what you expect to find in this caliber of races. We have more Kenyans this time who are known world beaters and if all goes well, this will be our race," said Kipsang.
The New York marathon silver medalist is not carrying his brother to Tokyo for site seeing, rather he will be one of the pacesetters tasked with making sure Kipsang runs fast and is able to break the world record.
"I'm privileged to be among the top cream of pacemakers in Tokyo and our mission is to help my brother lower the course record and if possible break the world record time," he said.