21 AUG 2011 Preview

Men's Marathon - PREVIEW

Abel Kirui of Kenya crosses the finish line at the Bradenburg Gate in Berlin to win the gold in the men's Marathon with a Championship Record (Getty Images)Abel Kirui of Kenya crosses the finish line at the Bradenburg Gate in Berlin to win the gold in the men's Marathon with a Championship Record (Getty Images) © Copyright

Abel Kirui, who set a Championship Marathon record of 2:06:14 in Berlin two years ago, will defend his title on the final day's action in Daegu on 4 September.


Kirui, who demolished by 1:37 the eight-year-old former record belonging to two-time winner Jaouad Gharbib when the Moroccan achieved his first success in Paris, is part of an extremely strong Kenyan team tipped to win a fourth successive IAAF World Marathon Cup title.


Their strength in depth contingent will be led on this occasion by Vincent Kipruto, the world's third fastest man this year, who clocked 2:05:33 when finishing runner up at the Rotterdam Marathon in April.


Tremendous back up will come from Dubai and Paris champions David Barmasai (2:07:18) and Benjamin Kiptoo (2:06:31) plus Eliud Kiptanui who will go to the start line with a 2:09:08 performance when fourth in Rotterdam under his belt.


Many will be backing Barmasai for a win after he raised eyebrows last October when winning the Nairobi Marathon at an altitude of 1600 metres in the Kenyan capital in 2:10:31 then on his first trip outside of his country took apart a great field in Dubai.


Kirui best remembered this year for finishing second when fellow Kenyan Mose Mosop set a World 30,000m track record in Eugene on the eve of the Prefontaine Classic meet in June, will be hoping to justify his recall to the team when not originally picked by Athletics Kenya. But even a podium placing will be a daunting task.


As usual their main contenders for individual and team honours will come from northerly neighbours Ethiopia who will include a potential gold medallist in Gebre Gebremariam, winner in New York on his Marathon debut last November.


Gebremariam, 26, whose strength is backed up by his victory in the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, will if victorious become only the second athlete from his country to triumph in succession to Abere Gezahegne's success 10 years ago in Edmonton.


The firepower in his nation's squad is considerable including other world class performers Eshetu Wendimu and Chala Decasse who have marks of 2:07:33 and 2:08:47 for third positions in Paris and Rotterdam to their credit this year.


Away from the two normally dominant nations there could be intensive challenges from the Moroccan pair of Abderrahim Goumri and Abderrahime Bouramdane who come into the Championships with season's bests of 2:09:11 and the latter 2:08:42 for seventh place in London.


Indeed Goumri could be the man everyone will have to keep an eye on. The 35-year-old. proving age isn't a barrier even at this distance. mastered South Korea's harsh heat and humidity when winning the Seoul Marathon in March.


Another threat could also emerge from Uganda's 22-year-old Stephen Kiprotich who posted a time of 2:07:20 in Enschede. It might be considered a low key victory, but the clocking makes him a medal contender.


David Martin for the IAAF