Kenya's Arusei, Rotich seek to conquer Athens Marathon course

File Photo : Nancy Arusei and Milton Rotich
IANS|01-Nov-2017 21:34

Nairobi, Nov 1 : Kenya's Nancy Arusei and Milton Rotich will aim to conquer the Athens Marathon on November 12.

The 29-year old Arusei will face last year's runner-up Kenza Dahmani from Algeria and Ethiopia's Hemila Wortessa, reports Xinhua news agency.

Arusei's last race on October 8 at Paris 20 km saw her finish fifth in 1:08:30 behind race winner Gebayanesh Ayele (Ethiopia) and Kenyan Susan Jeptoo.

But she has since polished her finishing and will be aiming for another victory on return to Greek capital.

"It was windy and tough in Paris, but the aim was to test how my body would feel. I did well and now have what it takes to win again in Athens," she said on Wednesday in Eldoret. 

The fastest entrant in the men's race is Kenya's Milton Rotich who has a 2:08:55 personal best time with the organisers putting the number of entrants at 18,500 athletes.

Last year, Arusei sprang a surprise on her marathon debut. At her first attempt at the marathon, the Kenyan ran the extremely tough course in 2:38:13. 

"I would never have thought it possible that I could win," said Arusei.

It was the most important step in her career as a marathoner and now she has since build on it and this year she finished second in the Agadir Marathon in Morocco, clocking 2:29:12.

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Athens Marathon is believed to be the authentic race because it is in that city that marathon was first run. Organisers have confirmed the athletes will use the same route that was used in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Arusei, Kenza Dahmani of Algeria and Hemila Wortessa will be the women to beat. Wortessa of Ethiopia should be a contender after her third place at the Wuxi Marathon in China this year in 2:31:50.

The men's favourite is Milton Rotich of Kenya although the hilly course makes predictions difficult and the race in Athens has consistently thrown up surprises.

Rotich, 33, has a personal best of 2:08:55 and among his challengers should be Chala Damessa and Samuel Kalakei.

Damessa of Ethiopia won the Gunsan Marathon in South Korea last year with 2:11:45 while Kenya's Kalalei achieved his best time of 2:11:47 in Metz in France last year. In 2017 the 22-year-old finished third in the Stockholm Marathon in 2:12:36.