By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Fast times and opportunities to showcase their talent will inspire over 20,000 runners to compete in Sunday's Nairobi International Marathon.
With a new route in place, organizers are keen to improve on last year's record of 2:12.39 set by Brimin Kipruto, who has announced he will skip his title defense and instead work on winning the Athens Marathon next month.
Former champion Reuben Siwa Kipruto said on Thursday that he believes he has the experience and stamina to run for a podium finish against a rich field that has many runners keen to display their raw talent.
"Nothing is assured with the Nairobi Marathon," said Kipruto, "Unlike other big city marathons, where elite runners have the upper hand, in Nairobi everyone is a star and on their day they can win the race. But I hope to repeat my success since winning here in 2014."
Kipruto also believes that the cool weather in Nairobi will help improve his time.
"It is wet and cold at the moment in Nairobi and if it remains this way until Sunday, expect fast time," he added.
Kipruto will be up against Julius Kiprono Tarus, the winner of the Brussels Marathon, William Ekai (2:20.53) and Sammy Kipkorir (2:17.03).
In the women's race, the onus will be on Naomi Jepkorir to prove her credential after she recently obliterated the field to conquer the Nanjing Lishui Half Marathon within 1:17.05.
It will be the second time she runs in Nairobi and Jepkorir is aiming for her maiden victory in Kenya's premier road race where the champions will walk home with 15,000 U.S. dollars.
She will be up against 2016 Rock and Roll Madrid Marathon fifth place finisher Sylvia Jemeli.
In the half marathon distance, Beijing Marathon champion Valary Ayaibei will be back to defend her title at home.
Ayaibei, who has said she is keen to compete at the World Marathon Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019, will give the selectors a chance to see her live in action.
Ayaibei clocked 2:21:38 to become the first Kenyan woman to win the Beijing Marathon, ending the Ethiopian reign.