Kenyan star Kiptum positive he can carry form into Abu Dhabi Marathon
Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum and Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba Chebichii lead a strong field of runners in the men’s and women’s races at the inaugural Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon to be held in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Fresh after becoming the new world half-marathon record holder with his win at Valencia, Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum is confident that he can go on to clinch the inaugural Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon to be held in the capital on Friday.

Speaking to Gulf News ahead of the race, Kiptum said he is in the best of shape and is ready to give everything to claim the top honours.

“I’m delighted to come here for this race and very much ready,” he said. “Me being the half-marathon world record holder and being in the shape I’m in, I feel I will be able to finish here with my personal best. Kiptum’s half marathon record stands at 58:18 — smashing the time of Kiptum Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese in 2010 — and he has also won the Daegu Marathon this year, clocking 2:06.29.

“The weather is ideal for me,” he added. “There are some strong athletes here, but I will be trying my level best.”

Rotterdam 2016 marathon winner  Marius Kipserem was also upbeat about doing well here despite this being his first visit to the capital.

“I trained well,” he said. “I haven’t seen the course and haven’t seen Abu Dhabi except being in the airport when on transit.

It’s very nice. It suits me. Hoping to run 2:04 or 2:05, and if I can achieve that, it will be a good performance for me.”

Kenya’s Stanley Biwott, who won the New York City Marathon, will be another athlete to watch out for. Having finished second twice in Dubai, he is hungrier than ever to clinch the title.

“It’s a strong field and it will be good for everyone to achieve fast times on this flat course,” said 32-year-old Biwott. “I have taken part in two half-marathons in Dubai in 2014 and 2015 and finished both times and I want to go one step further.”

Women’s race

Eunice Chumba Chebichii of Bahrain will join the fray of the Elite Women, and will be up against Ethiopia star Gelete Burka.

Though it is going to be a stiff challenge for Chumba, she was pretty confident of a good show.

“I’m well prepared for this marathon,” said Chumba, who won silver in the 10,000m at the Asian Games in Jakarta in August. “It’s the first marathon in Abu Dhabi and looking forward to it. My last race was in Beijing in September where I finished second and I have been training since then for Abu Dhabi.

“I can run any distance from 5,000m to the marathon and that’s how I have been preparing for all the races. The marathon in the 2020 Olympics remains my main goal. I want to gradually work on that by improving my personal best time which is 2:24.”

Chumba also felt that the course is flat and hence fans can expect some fast times. “Yes, it’s possible, if not a personal best time around 2:20 or 2:21. That’s what I would be aiming at in this race, and hopefully, I can achieve it,” she added.