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Mosop eyes world marathon time

Thursday April 12 2012

Moses Mosop during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo/AFP

Moses Mosop during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo/AFP 

By ELIAS MAKORI [email protected] in Rotterdam

A travel hitch on Wednesday morning saw Moses Mosop fail to arrive on schedule here where he will attempt to break compatriot Patrick Makau’s world record in Sunday’s ABN Amro Rotterdam Marathon.

Nonetheless, “Engine Kubwa” hit the ground running, quite literally, yesterday when, moments after landing in Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport shortly after 6am, he was immediately driven to Rotterdam and was firing on all cylinders on a morning run to shake off the jet lag in this port city.

“Mosop’s Schengen visa was expiring today (Thursday) and therefore he could not travel as scheduled and we had to make a special appeal to the Netherlands embassy in Nairobi for a quick renewal and he was able to get it in time to travel yesterday (Wednesday) night,” Valentijn Trouw of Mosop’s Netherlands-based management firm, Global Sports Communications, said.

Trouw said the change of flight didn’t seem to affect Mosop.

“He’s feeling good and his morning run was quite good,” said the manager shortly before the pre-race press conference at Rotterdam’s Novotel Brainpark Hotel which is adjacent to the Erasmus University.

Indeed, Mosop said the hitch was in the back burner and in a morning interview here, he remained as focused as ever on his bid to overhaul Makau’s best marathon time of two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds clocked in last September’s Berlin Marathon.

“My body feels good and I hope the weather on Sunday will be good,” said Mosop who won last October’s Chicago Marathon in 2:05.37.

Mosop is remembered for running an amazing 2:03:06 on his marathon debut, finishing second to Geoffrey Mutai (2:03.02) in last year’s Boston Marathon.

While Mutai’s winning time in Boston was the world’s fastest in the marathon, it did not count as a world record as the course in the world’s oldest marathon is downhill and the wind in the point-to-point course often offers huge help to the athletes.

Mosop was here about five weeks ago, requested to see the Rotterdam course and took notes that would help him plan meticulously for his world record attempt.

“I requested to come and see the course so that when I’m back in Kenya, training, I focus my training on the course.

“Indeed I changed my training a bit after seeing the course and in Kenya whenever I was sleeping, I was dreaming of the course because I want to do something special in Rotterdam on Sunday,” said Mosop, who trains in Ngong, which is also the base of world record holder Makau.

Mosop, 27, will be pushed by debutant Sammy Kitwara and Peter Kirui, the latter fresh from winning the New York City Half Marathon.

“I have never run with Mosop before but I have competed many times against Kitwara and I think it will be great on Sunday if we work as a team. Personally, I will be very happy if anyone of us wins the race,” said Kirui.

Kericho-based Kirui knows only too well about world record runs and world record attempts after he paced Makau to the world’s best mark in Berlin on September 25.

A month later he also did the pacemaking for Wilson Kipsang, who came just four seconds shy of Makau’s mark, running 2:03.42 in his attempt at Makau’s mark at the BMW Frankfurt Marathon.

Kirui will be starting his first full competitive marathon but has a personal best of 2:06.31 when, as a pacemaker, he went all the way to the finish in Frankfurt last October.

“This is the first time that I’m starting a marathon, running to finish. Last year in Frankfurt I stopped at 35km after pacing Kipsang and his group but my body was feeling good and I consulted with the race director and decided to run to the finish.”

While Kirui is the dark horse on Sunday, Kitwara will be making his marathon debut hot on the heels of two sub-60 minute half marathons, his personal best of 58.48 in Philadelphia last September.

“Rotterdam is a special city to me as whenever I come here, I come to win,” said Kitwara, a bronze medallist at the 2010 World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China.

The Rotterdam Marathon is among the final big city marathon races ahead of Athletics Kenya’s final selection of Kenya’s team to the London Olympics.

This weekend also features the Paris Marathon on Sunday and Monday’s BAA Boston Marathon.

The Virgin London Marathon on April 22, will be the final race before AK’s selectors name their top three men and women for London Olympics.

Already, six men and six women have been shortlisted for selection but there is a chance for those not considered to make the trip to London should they run amazing times, and that’s why Mosop wants to shatter the world record on Sunday here.