Kenyan athletes hope to end Ethiopian dominance of China’s Xiamen Marathon

Kenyan athletes are looking to outdo their Ethiopian counterparts at the Xiamen International Marathon, which is scheduled for Sunday.

Kenyan runners Eliud Kiptanui and Peter Kimeli are hoping to win the race which Ethiopia has dominated in years.

In 2018, Ethiopia’s Dejene Debela won the Xiamen International Marathon men’s race, while Fatuma Sado won in the women’s race. In 2017, Ethiopian runners Lemi Berhanu and Meseret Menghistu claimed the title in men’s and women’s competition respectively.

Additional reporting from Xinhua:

(Xinhua) — Kenyans Eliud Kiptanui and Peter Kimeli Some have vowed to end the Ethiopian domination at the Xiamen International Marathon on Sunday in China.

“It is down to strategy. I have been thinking of launching my campaign to win a ticket in the Kenya team to the World Championships in 2019. Xiamen will be the first stop for me in this campaign and I hope to show up in top form and win the race,” Kiptanui said here on Friday.

Kiptanui returns to China for the first time since he finished second at the Beijing Marathon back in 2012 clocking two hours and 10 minutes.

He is optimistic to regain the top form in 2015 when he finished second at the Berlin Marathon clocking 2:05:21.

The 29-year-old, who was fifth at the 2011 World Marathon Championships, is one of the fastest men in the field.

He clocked a personal best of 2:05:21 to finish second at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. Last year, he posted a season’s best of 2:08:20 to finish fifth in Paris.

“I was not strong to challenge for medals in Paris and Berlin. I started well in Berlin but Eliud Kipchoge was too strong. Now I want to run my own race and win to boost my chances of returning to the World Championships in Qatar in October,” he added.

Kiptanui will have compatriot Some to try and tame the Ethiopian onslaught and become the first Kenyans after former World Marathon record holder Patrick Makau Musyoki to win the race.

Some, 28, registered his best time of 2:05:38 to win the 2013 Paris Marathon and he came close to that mark when finishing third at the Daegu International Marathon in 2:06:49 last April, the second fastest time of his career.

The two Kenyans will be up against reigning champion Dejene Debela of Ethiopia.

The 23-year-old Debela, whose personal best of 2:07:10 was set in 2017 when he was fourth at the Eindhoven Marathon, led an Ethiopian top-three finish last year in Xiamen where he pulled away in the final kilometer to take his first marathon title in 2:11:22.

Because of the heavy rain that dogged him from almost gun to finish, Debele’s winning mark in the southern Chinese city was the slowest in 11 years, more than five minutes shy of the 2:06:19 course record set by Moses Mosop in 2015, which has stood as China’s all-comers’ record since.

This time Debela will be running in better conditions as the forecast calls for a cloudy day with temperature ranging from 14 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius.

But his title defense will not be easy as he faces a strong field that includes three sub-2:06 runners.

Bazu Worku, 28, is the second fastest entrant with his career best of 2:05:25 dating back to 2010.

The experienced Ethiopian has remained in solid form in recent years, collecting his third Houston Marathon title in 2:08:30 12 months ago. It will be Worku’s first race in China since his marathon debut in 2009.

The women’s field will be led by Shasho Insermu. The 25-year-old Ethiopian trimmed more than six and a half minutes off her best time to finish second in Amsterdam in 2:23:28 three months ago.

Kenya’s Janet Jelagat Rono is the biggest hope to end a nine-year winning streak by Ethiopian runners in the women’s race in Xiamen.

The 30-year-old achieved her lifetime best of 2:26:03 at the Tokyo Marathon back in 2014 and clocked 2:28:01 last April to take the top honors in Daegu, which was the sixth marathon title of her career following victories in Ljubljana, Cologne, Hong Kong, Panama City and Mazatlan.