Kenyan athletes have set their sights on winning titles in London Marathon on Sunday.
The women’s category has attracted elite athletes, among them defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot who leads 2017 winner Mary Keitany, Chicago Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei, as well as Linet Masai and Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono who will make their debut in the race.
In the men’s category, defending champion Eliud Kipchoge will team up with World Half Marathon record holder Abraham Kiptum, former London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru and former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang.
Brigid Kosgei, who has been training in Kapsait on the border of West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, is optimistic she will perform well in the race that promises to be fast, considering that Keitany will be out to lower her own time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 01 seconds she clocked at the race in 2017.
When Nation Sport caught up with Kosgei at Kapsait after training, the athlete said her main objective is to be on the podium on Sunday.
“It has been quite a journey for me. I’m happy my training has gone well and what remains is to execute my game plan on Sunday on the streets of London,” Kosgei, who trains alongside World Under-20 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo, Milan Marathon champion Vivian Kiplagat, said.
Kosgei, who came second in the race last year, hopes to go one better this year. “Last year, I struggled with the temperature which kept changing and I came second. It was very hot when we finished the race but this year, I have prepared for all weather conditions and my target is to win the race,” said Kosgei, who has a personal best of 2:18:35.
After winning in Chicago last October, Kosgei triumphed in Kakamega Forest Half Marathon and Kalya Half Marathon in West Pokot.
“I love participating in local races to maintain my form because we normally take a long break before resuming serious training,” the athlete, who competes under Rosa Associati camp, said.
She began the season with a win in Houston Half Marathon before bagging another victory in Bahrain Half Marathon in March in what she says was part of her build-up for London Marathon.
Asked about the rich field in Sunday’s race, Kosgei said she was ready to face any opponent.
The withdrawal of Tirunesh Dibaba has left Kenyan athletes to battle against her fellow Ethiopians Roza Dereje (2:19:17), Birhane Dibaba (2:19:17) and Tadelech Bekele (2:21:40).
Her coach, former Honolulu Marathon champion Erick Kimaiyo, is confident Kosgei will shine on Sunday.