Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wanjiru warms up for Windy City

Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru (in black and yellow singlet) trains at the Nyahururu Stadium on Tuesday. Wanjiru left for the US on Wednesday night to compete in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. Photos/ DAVID MACHARIA

Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru (in black and yellow singlet) trains at the Nyahururu Stadium on Tuesday. Wanjiru left for the US on Wednesday night to compete in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. Photos/ DAVID MACHARIA  

By DAVID MACHARIA

Olympic champion and reigning World Marathon Majors leader Samuel Kamau Wanjiru concluded his training on Tuesday and was confident he would do well at this weekend’s Chicago Marathon.

He flies out on Wednesday night for his debut race on American soil.

“I have never raced or visited America apart from passing there on my way to Puerto Rico in 2006, but the race will be beautiful since I will be in good company,” said Wanjiru.

He was referring to his training mates, both in his home town of Nyahururu and in Ngong, whom he has “heard” will be in the line-up. This makes him think the race might end in 2 hours and 4 minutes, or even 2:05.

Wanjiru however admitted not having seen the official line-up, saying: “No, I don’t like looking at the line-up because that amounts to focusing on other runners instead of the event. It could put pressure on oneself and I believe that is not good for competition.”

In Chicago, the London Marathon champion will focus on neither the world (2:03:59) or course records but on solidifying his World Marathon Majors lead, a comfortably unassailable 65 points.

Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia is second with 50 points and his compatriot, Tsegaye Kebede, third with 35.

Women’s category

Irina Mikitenko of Germany leads the women’s category with 75 points, ahead of Dire Tune (Ethiopia), in second place with 40.

Kenya’s Salina Kosgei is joint third with Alvetina Biktimirova (Russia) and Constantina Dita (Romania) on 30.

Wanjiru is seeking to join multiple Boston Marathon winner Robert Cheruiyot, who was the winner last season. World Marathon Majors winners take home a Sh35 million ($500,000) top prize.

Wanjiru has won all but one of the four marathons he has ran, having finished second to Martin Lel in London last year. He assured his fans that his eighth-place placing at the Rotterdam Half Marathon last month showed his preparedness for the 42km event.

A win in Chicago would boost his chances at the Kenya Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) founded by marathon legend Paul Tergat.

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