Kipchoge out to rekindle Dutch love story at Mission Marathon

Chief athletics writer   Eliud Kipchoge will be hoping his love story with the Netherlands will continue on Sunday when he competes at the NN Mission Marathon. The one-off race will be held in a specially designed course at the Twente airport in Enschede and will be closed to spectators. The event was initially planned for Hamburg on April 11 where Kipchoge was set to make a return to the city where he made his marathon debut. However, organisers were forced to find a new venue due to the coronavirus crisis in Germany. As fate would have it, Kipchoge would eventually return to eastern Netherlands, a place he still has fond memories having left a mark in all the three previous occasions he competed there. “I have not been to Enschede before but I have been to Hengelo where I have good memories. I remember I ran my Personal Bests (PBs) in 10,000m and 1500m,” Kipchoge said in a pre-race press conference. It was in the neighbouring city of Hengelo, approximately 50km from the venue of Sunday’s race that Kipchoge attained PBs for both races at the annual BFK Games.  First, in 2004, he ran a new PB in 1,500m (3:33.2) and three years later he also ran a new PB in 10,000m (26:49.02). It is also worth noting that in 2009 Kipchoge also ran his PB in 10km (28:11) at the Utrechtse Singelloop race in Utrecht some 130km from Twente. The world marathon record holder will be making his first appearance in the 42.2km distance since placing a distant eighth at the 2020 London Marathon, a race won by Ethiopian Shura Kitata. “I want to run a beautiful race on Sunday to show the world that we are in a transition to a great future. I trust everybody will enjoy and will come up with a good result,” he said. With only about three months until the Olympic Games, the race will also provide athletes with an opportunity to hit the qualifying standards for the Games. The 36-year-old will be leading Kenya’s marathon charge at the Summer Games where he will also be seeking to defend his title. “I think it is very beautiful, where else can you run and with airplanes in sight?” said Kipchoge when asked about the course. While Kipchoge will be the only athlete in the field with sub 2:05, he will face off with compatriots Laban Korir and Jonathan Korir while Augustine Choge  and Mathew Sang will be making their debuts over the distance. The 2012 Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich is also in the mix and will lead Uganda’s team that is also made of Felix Chmonges and Geoffrey Kusuro. Gladys Chesir is the sole Kenyan in the corresponding women’s race The race will start at 9.30am local time.

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