Biwott, Keitany out for another bite of the Big Apple glory

All eyes will be on Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany as they seek to rule the TCS New York City Marathon again on Sunday ahead of the eagerly awaited American national elections on Tuesday. Biwott an Olympian whose medal dreams in Rio ended in a stomach ache after being forced to drop out of the race is out to redeem his status as a top marathoner by clinching a second victory in The Big Apple and commercial capital of USA. “New York is special to me because it was here I won my first title in the Abbott World Marathon Majors “After last year, my name has been spread worldwide, and I have been considered among the top athletes in the world. That’s why I always like to return to New York, where I left a piece of my heart.” Biwott told the IAAF. In April this year, Biwott came in second during the London Marathon behind Olympics gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge. Kipchoge (2:03:05) took the title and narrowly missed the world record with eight seconds, Biwott followed closely in a huge lifetime best of 2:03:15 while three-time Olympics gold medallist Kenenisa Bekele finished third in 2:06:36. Kipchoge’s and Biwott’s performance earned them a call up to Team Kenya for the Rio Olympics Games where Kichoge won gold by stopping the timer at 2:03:05. His teammates, Biwott and 2012 Boston Marathon Champion Wesley Korir dropped out of the race due after their drinks were mixed up in one of the most embarrassing official blunders of Team Kenya in Brazil. Biwott is the fastest elite athlete on the course and will sweat it out against Moscow 2013 IAAF World Championships silver medallist Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45) of Ethiopia, and countryman Lucas Rotich (2:07:17). Americans are pinning their hopes of a first victory since Meb Keflezighi won here in 2009 on the titleholder’s namesake and Kenyan-born home runner Shadrack Biwott (2:12:55). Women’s race favourite Keitany will be looking for her third victory having successfully defended the New York title twice in 2014 where she clocked 2:25:07 and improved on her time in her second victory in 2015 where she stopped the timer at 2:24:25. “My training has been great and I’m ready for the race. I’m Praying that this year will better than last year. “The elite field is equal, almost like last year there are about three Kenyans and three Ethiopians there for the race too.” Keitany told Citizen Digital before departing for New York. Keitany was also called as a reserve for the women’s Rio Olympics marathon team but was dropped in the process together with two-time Chicago Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat. The Kenyan successfully defended her title in 2:21:32 and led compatriots to a podium sweep at the 2016 Chicago Marathon. Edna Kiplagat (2:23:28), Valentine Kipketer (2:23:14) and Purity Rionoripo (2:23:41) took top four positions. Kiplagat took advantage of the time she had to focus on her training and to prove to the Olympics selectors wrong and Keitany is itching to do the same having finished fourth at the London 2012 Games. “I have had enough time to train for New York after I was dropped from the Olympics team.” The defending champion added. Race favourite, Keitany the fastest on the course with a time of 2:18:37 and will have to sweat it out against three compatriots for the top price. She faces stiff competition from Gladys Cherono who has a personal best of 2:19:25, Joyce Chepkirui (2:24:11) and US-based debutant and London 2012 Olympics silver medallist, Sally Kipyego who missed Rio selection in the 10000m during the Eldoret Trials on July 1. -The jackpot race-
Winner of the men’s division of the 2015 New York City Marathon Stanley Biwott of Kenya holds the Kenyan flag after the finish of the race in New York’s Central Park, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar
If Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany win the race they will be among top five runners competing for a share of the Majors jackpot worth USD500,000 (Ksh50.75m) Biwott is ranked sixth in the leader board with 16 points after finishing second in London Marathon this year. He wins in New York he will move to second place with 41 behind Olympics Champion Eliud Kipchoge who has 50. As for Keitany, if she wins she will move up to third behind on 25, Behind Olympics gold medallist and London Champion Jemima Sumgong who has 50 and Chicago champion and London Marathon silver medallist Florence Kiplagat who has 34.

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