A stellar Kenyan team, which includes Paris Marathon champion Vincent Kipruto, Robert Kipchumba and Daniel Rono, second in last year’s Boston Marathon, will part of the large field expected at the Fortis Rotterdam marathon on Sunday.
Leading the Kenyan charge, though, will be the diminutive and soft-spoken James Kipsang Kwambai who goes to the Dutch port city race eager to prove he’s worth his own salt in the world’s distance running.
At last year’s race, Duncan Kibet, his training mate in Eldoret, was credited with the victory although the pair shared exactly the same finishing time of 2:04.27. Kibet outsprinted Kwambai when he relaxed to raise arms in celebration.
He was surprised after posting the joint second fastest marathon time in the world and Kwambai now returns to the 30th Fortis Marathon Rotterdam for a bigger prize – breaking the 2:3.59 world record held by Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie.
“My body responded quite well to training and if we get good pacemakers like those we had last year coupled with favourable weather conditions, then nothing will stop us from smashing the world record,” Kwambai says.
“The world record is attainable at the Rotterdam course as it is flat. ”
He finished second in the 2008 Berlin Marathon where the Ethiopian set the world record and settled for a runners-up slot in Rotterdam in an impressive 2:04.27, a Kenyan national record and the world’s second fastest run of all time.
“I have disappointed my fans for long. At the 2008 Berlin Marathon, I trailed Gebrselassie for 36 kilometres and he finally broke the world record.
At the 2007 Boston Marathon, where many expected me to win, I held onto “Mwafrika” (Robert Cheruiyot) up to the final water stop almost 25 miles where I slowed to pick a bottle of water and Cheruiyot broke way to victory.”
Daniel Rono – with credits in two of the Big Five marathons and personal best time he posted in Rotterdam – is, however, itching to claim the prize scalps of Duncan Kibet in Rotterdam.
“I have high expectations in Rotterdam as I have raced on the course. And after racing in both fast and hilly courses, realised the faster Rotterdam course will credit me better times,” said Rono .