The National - News
In-form Ekiru confident of setting new record at Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon
Titus Ekiru is confident of producing a personal best and a new course-record time at the Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon tomorrow.
The Kenyan arrived in the capital having run the fastest marathon of the year, clocking two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds in Milan on May 16. Ekiru, 29, believes he has arrived in great shape and is aiming to become the first athlete to run the marathon in record time. The fastest time in Abu Dhabi is 2:04.40.
“The objective in Abu Dhabi is to beat my personal best and I am aiming for a record time of 2:02.00,” Ekiru told The National during the event’s launch ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council yesterday.
“I have spoken with my running partners about the course and I have been told it’s flat and fast, so I am confident I can achieve this goal. Everything from my training and welfare has gone well, and to run the marathon under two hours is certainly on my radar. It’s not something that I plan to achieve in Abu Dhabi, but perhaps under a different setting.”
Eliud Kipchoge, Ekiru’s Kenyan teammate, became the first man to break the two-hour barrier when he ran 1:59.40 at the Ineos Challenge in Vienna, but his result was not ratified as an official world record.
Ekiro’s timing at the Milano Marathon placed him in a tie for the fifth-fastest run, alongside compatriot Dennis Kimetto. “To run the marathon under two hours obviously is one of my targets in the foreseeable future,” he said. “We are exploring the possibility of running at the Chicago and London marathons, among other races in the future.”
Ekiru will be the man to beat in a line-up that also include the defending champion and fellow countryman Reuben Kipyego, who holds the course record in Abu Dhabi.
Challenging them for the men’s prize are the likes of Abel Kirui, Barnabas Kiptum, Philemon Rono Cherop, Abdi Asefa Kebede, Shumi Dechasa Leche and Thomas Kiplagat.
Eunice Chumba, meanwhile, believes she can make it thirdtime lucky in the women’s race after finishing runner-up in the inaugural race in 2018 and fourth the following year.
The 2020 marathon was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Abu Dhabi is one of my favourite places and it’s so nice feeling to be back after the pandemic,” said the Kenyan-born runner, who finished seventh at the Tokyo Olympics and will be competing under the Bahrain flag in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s my third time here and want to improve my personal best time. This is my first race after the Olympics and I feel I have done enough to be thirdtime lucky here.”
Prior to that, Chumba ran a personal best 2:23.10 in the Milano Marathon to take third spot. Challenging Chumba will be Alemu Megertu and Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon winner who returns for her first marathon nine months after giving birth to twin sons.
The third Abu Dhabi marathon, with a total prize fund of $303,000, consists of a marathon relay, 10km, 5km, 2.5km races as well as wheelchair race for People of Determination.