NAIROBI, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Former London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru has dared his opponents to pick up the gauntlet and take him on in Sunday's New York Marathon.
Wanjiru, together with defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Festus Talam, left for New York on Tuesday night looking to take on Ethiopia's former Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa and fellow countryman Shura Kitata, as well as Bernard Lagat of the USA.
In March, Wanjiru performed poorly at the Houston Half Marathon, finishing 25th, and was unable to finish the Great North Run in Newcastle because of a stomach infection.
"After I had a stomach infection during the Great North Run, I have since recovered and have had good training. Now I'm back and fully focused on the New York Marathon," Wanjiru said on Tuesday evening before his departure.
Wanjiru, a former Rotterdam Marathon champion, finished eighth in this year's London Marathon in April, clocking 2:10:35 in a race won by Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge.
He blamed his loss to a knee injury, which he now says is fully healed.
"As you can see, I am in my best form. My training has gone smoothly and I want to challenge Kamworor and the other athletes to try to catch me. Though this is my first marathon in the USA, I want to say I'm ready," said Wanjiru.
Injury concerns have inspired the 27-year-old and he believes New York will provide him with a new start as he aims to improve his personal best time of 2:05:21.
"The New York course is tough and we all know it. But that does not mean I will not try to improve my time. However, the important thing for me is to start afresh with a win as I close my season," said Wanjiru.
Defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor will be among this year's participants as he seeks to win back-to-back titles after winning his first major marathon on the same soil last year.
Kamworor won his third consecutive IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia in March, and hopes for similar luck in New York.
"Kamworor hopes to defend his title successfully on Sunday and mount a successful defense of his title in the "Big Apple" and we will support him," said Kamworor's coach Patrick Sang.