Chepng’etich, Kimutai keen to retain titles
By Ericson Kiprono
Kenya’s Ruth Chepng’etich and Felix Kimutai will defend their titles during the 41st edition of Vodafone Istanbul Marathon in Turkey on Sunday.
Chepng’etich won last year’s race in 2:18:35 while Kimutai clocked 2:9:57 for victory and they are both keen to make it two in a row.
Just last month, Chepng’etich became a world champion when she won gold in the searing heat of Doha after clocking 2:32:43 which seemed to have served as part of her preparations for the Istanbul race.
Bahrain’s Ruth Chelimo, 39, was second in Doha in a time of 2:33.46 with Commonwealth champion Helalia Johannes of Namibia, also 39, taking bronze in 2:34.15.
Chepngetich will, however, face tough competition from compatriot Margaret Agai, Merima Mohammed of Bahrain and Diana Lobacevske of Lithuania.
The men’s field also includes recent winners, 2017 champion Abraham Kiprotich of France, 2016 champion Evans Kiplagat of Azerbaijan, 2017 runner-up Jacob Kendagor of Kenya, 2015 winner Elias Chelimo and Salah Eddine Bounasr of Morocco.
“Everything is going on well and I am well-prepared for the marathon and to defend my title. Getting a win in Istanbul will give me a boost as I get back in shape,” said Kimutai. In April, Kimutai raced to a course record at the Yellow River Estuary International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, in the Chinese city of Dongying.
The 30-year-old Kimutai pulled clear with six kilometres to go to secure the victory in 2:09:23, beating the course record of 2:09:27 set by compatriot Dickson Tuwei in 2016.