For the second year in a row, double New York City marathon champion, Martin Lel, will not be part of the elite athletes in the race having been forced to pull out after an injury.
Lel, a winner at the Big Apple in 2003 and 2007, has been forced to withdraw from Sunday’s race having sustained a leg injury, organisers New York Road Runners Club’s media official, Richard Finn, announced on Wednesday.
The former London marathon champion, 31, seemed to in good form and health with a winning performance at the Great North Half Marathon in Newcastle last month, but a nagging leg injury surfaced in the last few days of training according to his Italian manager Federico Rosa.
“The good result of the half marathon made us believe it could be over but in the last day this problem came out again and he was forced to make this painful decision,” Rosa told NYRR officials in an email.
He becomes the second Kenyan and former runner to pull out of the race after Paul Tergat announced he was giving the event a wide berth because of a painful hip injury. But other Kenyans, James Kwambai and Robert Cheruiyot left the country on Tuesday for the race.
Lel had been seen as the leading favourite with a 22-2 career win-loss record against the other top contenders in the five-borough race including defending champion and twice winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, two time World Championship marathon winner Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, four time Boston champion Cheruiyot and United States standouts Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi.
“It is a blow to lose (Martin) Lel,” said NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “We’ll miss him. Athletes of his calibre walk a fine line between being in winning form and being injured or sick. Understanding this, we ensure our fields run deep, and I am pleased our men’s field remains one of the best ever.”