NAIROBI, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan veteran Mark Kiptoo says he will attempt to break Haile Gebrselassie's world over 40 record of 61:40 in the Azkoitia-Azpeitia Half Marathon in Spain on March 24.
Kiptoo, 42, is not about to retire, having ventured into road racing late. However, he will face a stiff challenge from younger athletes, who have all won the Azkoitia-Azpeitia Half Marathon, led by teammates Joseph Kiprono Kiptum (60:17) and Emmanuel Bett (60:08). Kiptoo's own personal best time in the 21km distance is 60:29 minutes.
"I still feel strong and can go for a fast time. I started marathon late, about six years ago, and I believe I have a few more races before retiring. The challenge in Spain will be stiff with so many Kenyan runners, but it will be down to strategy and focus, especially after the 12km mark," Kiptoo said on Thursday.
Kiptum won last year's race and holds a fastest time of 60:17 and later claimed the bronze medal at the Istanbul marathon in 2:09:56. In 2015, Bett won the Azkoitia-Azpeitia half marathon while Kiptoo dominated the 2013 edition.
Organizers have assembled past champions and other top runners with an aim of trying to beat the world record of the master's race of athletes over 40 years old held by the Ethiopian with a time of 61:40.
There will also be Samuel Kiplimo Kosgei, who holds a fastest time of 2:06:53 from the Kosice Marathon in Slovakia, James Rungaru, Stephen Omito, Kiprono Menjo, Stephen Muendo, Ronald Kirui, Merthawi Tsegay (Eritrea) and Erick Kiplagat.
In the women's category, Kenya's Leonidah Mosop (70:11), is the strongest in the elite race.
She will face compatriot Mercy Kepchumba, winner of the Granollers Half marathon (73:22) and the Ethiopian Hawi Megersa, sixth in Egmond.
Kenya's Eunice Kirwa Jepkirui holds the women's course record at 1:08.39.