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Kenyans Chumba and Ki­pla­gat seek to defend ti­tles to­mor­row

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports -

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Dick­son Chumba and Florence Ki­pla­gat will be seek­ing to re­tain thier ti­tle dur­ing the 2016 edi­tion of the Chicago Marathon to­mor­row.

Chumba took home his third ca­reer marathon vic­tory in Chicago last year, break­ing the lead pack with three miles to go af­ter a slow and tac­ti­cal race, the first race in more than two decades with­out pace­set­ters.

The 2012 cham­pion Tsegaye Kebede’s, whose last run in Chicago four years ago re­sulted in a PB and a course record is also among the pre­vi­ous win­ners con­firmed.

Kenya’s Micah Kogo and Stephen Sambu are also in the elite field. Kogo might not have a marathon vic­tory on his re­sume, but he does have an Olympic bronze medal in the 10,000m and a track best of 26:35:63, mak­ing him the sixth-fastest man in his­tory at the dis­tance.

He has a well-es­tab­lished ca­reer on the track but a ma­jor marathon cham­pi­onship con­tin­ues to elude him so he will ar­rive in Chicago ea­ger to re­write that sto­ry­line.

Sambu has raced ex­cep­tion­ally well in Chicago, and net­ted a pair of vic­to­ries at the 2015 and 2016 Bank of Amer­ica Sham­rock Shuf­fle 8K, but his po­ten­tial in the marathon re­mains un­known. Sambu brings 10,000m speed ( 26:54:61 ) and half­marathon en­durance ( 1:00:41 ) into his marathon de­but.

Kenya’s Gideon Kip­keter and USA’s Luke Puske­dra could also be in the hunt for a podium fin­ish while Koji Gokaya leads a strong con­tin­gent of Ja­panese run­ners with a per­sonal best of 2:09:21.

Ki­pla­gat, the world record-holder in the half-marathon with 1:05:09, re­turns to Chicago to defend the ti­tle she won last year when she cap­tured her first Chicago Marathon vic­tory in 2:23:33.

Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Gu­lume Chala as well as Kenya’s Valen­tine Kip­keter could to make it dif­fi­cult for Ki­pla­gat to defend her ti­tle.

Baysa, the 2010 and 2012 Chicago Marathon cham­pion, stands out as Ki­pla­gat’s main chal­lenger on pa­per. She is the reign­ing Bos­ton Marathon cham­pion and has vic­to­ries in the past at the Paris (twice), Istanbul, Xi­a­men and Saitama marathons.

Baysa made a state­ment in Chicago in 2012 when she beat her op­po­nent to the line by one sec­ond in an all-out sprint fin­ish down Colum­bus Drive, run­ning a PB of 2:22:03.

Kip­keter, mak­ing her Chicago Marathon de­but, looked ripe for a podium fin­ish with four miles to go at this year’s Bos­ton Marathon but faded to fifth. Nev­er­the­less, the 23-year- old Kip­keter has a marathon best of 2:23:02 and two pre­vi­ous vic­to­ries in Am­s­ter­dam and Mum­bai, so she could be a fac­tor.

Chala recorded her per­sonal best when she won the 2015 Frank­furt Marathon, stop­ping the clock at 2:23:12.

HSA’s Ser­ena Burla will be hop­ing to pre­vent an East African sweep. Burla has run faster than 2:30:00 twice dur­ing her ca­reer and was the 2014 US Half Marathon cham­pion. She also turned in one of the most im­pres­sive US marathon per­for­mances last year when she fin­ished 10th at the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships Beijing 2015.

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