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Dubai (UAE): He may be the race favourite but Kenyan youngster Eliud Kiptanui says he is under no pressure as he chases the biggest prize in distance running at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon today (Friday).
Still only 21, Kiptanui is already the 17th fastest man in marathon history despite having just two European marathons under his belt. And with the best personal best in the field (2h:05:39s) he is the man under the spotlight in the $1 million race.
“I don’t feel under any pressure – my main worry is the humidity,” said one of distance running’s brightest new talents, while taking a break from training for the main event. “I can’t predict anything for the race until I see the weather on the day as a humid race could stop me from finishing.
“We train at altitude so running at sea level should be easier but we have to adapt and I really fear the humidity – but if it is low then there will be no problem and I would expect to beat my personal best.”
Despite the young man’s confidence, he faces a major battle for the $250,000 winner’s cheque in a race held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and held under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council. Won for the last three years by Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is wide open in 2011 – and Kiptanui knows it.
“Of course I am prepared and the course is flat but I would never say who is going to win before we start the race – if you want to know the winner, have a look after 30km,” he added with a smile. “In the long term, my ambition is to make the Kenyan Olympic team for London 2012. If I can make a great time here then I am closer to making the team.”
Schedule to get underway today (Friday) at 7am just off Sheikh Zayed Road in front of the American University, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will see two world-class fields in both the women’s and men’s marathons with the hugely popular 10km race taking to the course just 15 minutes later. A 3km Fun Run will get underway at 11am in Dubai Media City.
“The runners have been collecting their race packs over the past two days and we are ready to go,” said event director Peter Connerton. “It’s the biggest field we have ever had – over 14,000 – and a line up in the marathon that should provide two cracking races.”
The 12th staging of the race comes just a day after it was named the No. 1 Marathon in Asia by athletics website All-Athletics.com. The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon triumphed over all other similar events in Asia to join London (Europe), Casablanca (Africa), Chicago (North and Central America), Gold Coast Airport (Australia) and Sao Paulo (South America) as the regional number one.
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is also supported by The Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Holding, “Official Outfitter” adidas, The Address Dubai Marina, Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, Khaleej Times, TNT, Gatorade, Aquafina, Fitness First, Men’s Fitness, Plan B and by government departments Dubai Police, RTA, Dubai Municipality DHA and the Dubai Ambulance Services.