NEW YORK, October 26 – The 2003 and 2007 champion Martin Lel of Kenya has been forced to pull out of Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon with a leg injury New York Road Runners officials announced on Wednesday.Lel, 31, had looked to be in good form and health with a winning performance at the Great North Half Marathon in England last month but a nagging leg injury surfaced in the last few days of training according to his manager Federico Rosa.
“The good result of the half marathon made us believe it could be over but in the last day this problem came out again and he was forced to make this painful decision,” Rosa told NYRR officials in an email.
Lel had been seen as the leading favorite with a 22-2 career win and loss record against the other top contenders in the five borough race including defending champion and twice winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, two time World Championship marathon winner Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, four time Boston champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya and United States standouts Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi.
“It is a blow to lose Martin Lel,” said NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “We’ll miss him. Athletes of his caliber walk a fine line between being in winning form and being injured or sick. Understanding this, we ensure our fields run deep, and I am pleased our men’s field remains one of the best ever.”
Russian Tatyana Petrova withdrew from the women’s race with an illness.