Kenya’s William Kiplagat, who won the Fortis Marathon Rotterdam on April 13th in 2.07.42, is going for a ‘Double Dutch’’ this Sunday 19 October 2003 in the ING Amsterdam Marathon, the 28th running of the event.
The 31 year-old runner from Kamwosor wants to make up for his poor performance during the last World Championships in Paris.
”I was not well prepared for Paris, and at 31 kilometres I had to withdraw as I was not feeling well’’, he said today during the pre-race press conference at the ING House at Amsterdam.
Kiplagat, whose victory in Rotterdam was the first of his career at the classic road race will start for the third time in the Amsterdam Marathon. In 1999 he finished third in his personal best of 2:06:50. Last year he entered the Amsterdam’s 1928 Olympic Stadium as the tenth runner and finished in 2.11.27.
This year his strongest opposition of compatriots Benjamin Kimutai Kosgei, Felix Limo, running hisdebut at the distance, the very experienced Moses Tanui, and Dutchman Kamiel Maase.
Benjamin Kimutai Kosgei won at Amsterdam last year in 2.07.26. It was his first Marathon and the fourth fastest winning time of the year in 2002. Kimutai first wanted to run the ING New York Marathon but the American organizers did not have interest in him as a starter in the Big Apple.
The 32 year old Kenyan who is not only a professional runner but also a professional physiotherapist said: ”Last year there was no pressure on me. Nobody knew me as a marathon runner but now the pressure is enormous as I won last year. I’m well prepared and I hope for a nice and beautiful race. The funny thing is that I train with many of my opponents at Eldoret... I know they are well prepared.’’
Felix Limo, a 23 year-old Nandi tribeman, knows the Dutch roads well. In 2001 he ran the fastest ever 15 kilometres in the Seven Hills run at Nijmegen a still standing world best of 41.29, when beating Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie into second place. Basicly I’m a 10,000 metres runner but I’m looking forward to my first Marathon.’’
Moses Tanui, is with 38 years the “old fox” in the race. He has a impressive list of performances. His last Marathon however dates back to September 29th last year as he finished 8th in the Berlin marathon (2.10.39) after winning the Vienna marathon four months earlier in 2.10.25.
”I know people are thinking I’m too old for a good time in the Marathon. I’m fit and I’m a long time at the top. A lot of runners are doing well for two or three years. I am very experienced and well preparerd.’’
Tanui is a member of the commission which is investigating Kenyan athletes’poor showing at the Paris World championships. There are several factors’ he said, “a lot of runners are racing too much but another factor, probably the most important, is the bad relation between our federation and the athletes.’’
Dutchman Kamiel Maase, who was the second European finisher in the 10,000 metres final of Paris, hopes he can be a good opponent for the Kenyans. “I do not want to think of bettering our national marathon record set by Gerard Nijboer 23.5 years ago at Amsterdam with 2.09.01.’’
Other runners in the ING Amsterdam marathon are: Ismail Sghir (Fra), Wilson Kibet (Ken), Moges Taye (Eth), Michael Bartoszak (Pol), Robert Cheruiyot (Ken), William Kipsang (Ken) and Tadesse Hailemariam (Eth).
As Amsterdam mostly concentrates on the men’s field the women’s counterpart is weaker with Caroline Kwambai (Ken) and Beata Rakonczai (Hun), both running their first marathon, Elena Sampai (Por), Margaret Atonondyang (Ken) and Dutchwomen Anne van Schuppen, the national marathon champion of 2003.
The weather forecast seems good for Sunday: slight wind, temp. Around 11-12 CT and only 10 percent chance of rain. The race starts at 11.00 hrs in the Olympic stadium after a loop of 7 kilometres they will be going back to the stadium and then run the last 35 kms.