NAIROBI, Kenya, April 24-Reigning London marathon champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru will look to extend Kenya’s domination of road running when he lines up for this year’s race on Sunday from 10.45am Kenyan time.Kenyan men have won the last six editions of the London race and will look to Wanjiru to lead a formidable Kenyan contingent in the race that includes world champion Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai and Duncan Kibet.
Already an Olympic champion, Wanjiru’s marathon career has enjoyed astonishing success with his front running tactics leaving opponents trailing.
The 23-year-old has won four out the five marathons he has competed in, setting four course records along the way. He clocked 2:06:39 to win Fukuoka in 2007, 2:06:32 to win Olympic in Beijing in 2008, 2:05:10 to win London and 2:05:41 to win Chicago last year.
And having won the World Marathon Majors crown last year, the powerfully-built athlete has maximum points from his two races in the 2009-2010 competition and another win will put him on course to become the first athlete to defend his crown.
Wanjiru has also expressed his desire to set a new world mark and after going close in London last year, where he was inside world record pace until the last seven kilometres, he may yet again go for it.
His main challenge will emanate from familiar quarters with Kirui, who is one of the few athletes with a faster time than Wanjiru in the line up, looking to build on his World Championships win from Berlin last year.
The police officer has expressed the belief that he can clock 2:03:30 and having set pace for Haile Gebrselassie earlier on in his career, this could be his chance to rise to the top of distance running.
Reigning Rotterdam marathon champion Duncan Kibet is the second fastest marathoner of all time and if he hits his stride he could also pose questions to Wanjiru, as could Eritrean Zersanny Tadesse who recently broke Wanjiru’s world half marathon record.
Emmanuel Mutai, who has finished fourth in the past two London races and won silver at the worlds, could have a major say as well.
Their participation in the race was in doubt due to the volcanic eruptions in Europe but the race organizers arranged a private jet for the top runners.