Kenyans Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany will defend their TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday (6).
Biwott is the fastest man in the field; he won his first major marathon on the New York streets last year, but must erase any doubts about his fitness after dropping out of the Rio Olympic marathon mid-race in August. Earlier this year he clocked 2:03:51 making him the seventh-fastest marathon runner of all time to finish second at the London Marathon
“This will be my chance to prove I am still a worthy bet in running,” the 30-year-old London Marathon runner-up told reporters in Nairobi.
Ugandan and New York debutant Moses Kipsiro, 30, competes in his second career marathon, having clocked 2:15:48 in Hamburg in April
Keitany who will be gunning become the first woman in three decades to win New York three consecutive times. She also comes in the race as the second 2:18.37 in London in 2012, Nine-time winner Grete Waitz was the last, her streak of five in a row ending in 1986.
The 34-year-old Keitany, who missed out on Rio Olympic selection, is out to prove that the selection team made a mistake in not picking her for the Rio Olympics.
“I thought I earned a ticket to Rio,” Keitany said on Friday. “So let me just focus on the marathon for New York and come to defend my title.”
The 2015 New York City runner-up Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia comes with PB of 2:19:31, would be out to challenge Keitany with the former’s compatriot Buzunesh Deba and another Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui who has a has a PB of 2:24:11 will also be in battle line.
U.S. Olympic triathlon gold medallist Gwen Jorgensen and Molly Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000 metres, will make their marathon debuts in the women’s race.
Lelisa Desisa the Ethiopian will be the biggest challenge to Biwott and another threat will be Eritrean Ghirmay Ghebreslassie who has PB of 2:07.46 and Lucas Rotich of Kenya.
Ghebreslassie finished fourth in Rio and at the London Marathon after becoming the youngest ever world marathon champion last year at age 19.
Desisa, 26, has twice won the Boston Marathon and finished second there this year. He placed third in New York last year.
The 26-year-old Rotich’s credentials are not as impressive, but he continues to improve on the roads and is one of only five men in the field who have broken two hours and eight minutes for the marathon.
Three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, is the strongest US hope. A 2:07:47 runner at his best, the 33-year-old has competed in New York twice before, finishing 11th in 2006 and eighth in 2010. He arrives on the back of a good showing at the Great North Run half marathon in September, where he finished second behind Mo Farah.
Stanley Biwott (KEN)
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ETH)
Lucas Rotich (KEN)
Dathan Ritzenhein (USA)
Moses Kipsiro (UG)
Mary Keitany (KEN)
Aselefech Mergia (ETH)
Buzunesh Deba (ETH)
Joyce Chepkirui (KEN)
Gwen Jorgensen (USA)
Molly Huddle (USA)