Kirui plots Marathon title defence at stacked Chicago field

After missing out on a podium finish at the London Marathon in April, two-time world champion Abel Kirui is not ready to relinquish his Chicago crown on October 8.

Kirui, the 2012 London Olympics Games silver medalist put on a tactical race last year to claim his first Abbott World Marathon Majors victory against the defending champion Dickson Chumba who settled for the runners up position.

Chumba was not invited to go and try to reclaim his crown but Kirui will compete against world record (WR) holder Dennis Kimetto, the former 2013 Chicago Marathon champion.

Kimetto, holds the Chicago course record of 2:03:45 set back in 2013 and will be hunting for top podium finish. His last conquest was in Berlin, 2014 when he set a WR of 2:02.57.

Athens 2004 Olympics bronze medalist Zersenay Tadese, of Eritrea, could spoil the party for Kirui given his speed over the 10,000m and the half marathon (WR 58:23).

After retiring from the track, Tadese has only finished three marathons; London 2010 and 2012 and the Nike Breaking2 marathon. He has recorded a did not finish (DNF) in Chicago and Boston back in 2013 and 2015. But has an official personal best of 2:10.41 and 2:06.51 (Unofficial) from the Breaking2 marathon.

“It will be my first time to race with Kimetto and I feel that he is going to be the biggest challenger. I have competed against Tadese once last year but I do not much about his season this year, although I do not undermine any participant.

“The organisers told us that the selected a few athletes from Kenya.  I do wish Chumba success in the next race that he is preparing for. I wish to race against him again,” Kirui said.

On April 23, Kirui opened his season with a fourth place finish during the London Marathon. His compatriot Daniel Wanjiru triumphed with a time of 02:05:48 while Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia (02:05:57) and debutant Bedan Karoki 02:07:41 took the second and third places respectively.

“A month before the London Marathon I suffered a hip problem and it affected the quality and concentration of the final training.  That is now over with the good massage I was receiving and the good climate in Kaptagat is working in my favour.

“I do not have any injury worries, I had a tendon injury two months ago but I took my time, its now fully recovered and I’m so happy,” the ever-jovial Kirui stated.

He adds that his preparations are going on well in the company of his training partners from Global Sport Communication led by Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge.

Stephen Sambu will be the third Kenyan on the course. In his marathon debut last year, Sambu clocked 2:13.35 for fifth place.

Men’s Marathon Field

  1. Dennis Kimetto (KEN) 2:02:57 (Berlin, 2014)
  2. Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:05:04 (Rotterdam, 2009)
  3. Kohei Matsumura (JPN) 2:08:09 (Tokyo, 2014)
  4. Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 2:10:41 (London, 2012)
  5. Yuki Takamiya (JPN) 2:10:57 (Tokyo, 2016)
  6. Jordan Chipangama (ZAM) 2:11:35 (Duluth, 2015)
  7. Chihiro Miyawaki (JPN) 2:11:50 (Tokyo, 2014)
  8. Ryoichi Matsuo (JPN) 2:12:11 (Nobeoka, 2014)
  9. Stephen Sambu (KEN) 2:13:35 (Chicago, 2016)