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Updated: April 23, 2010 20:37 IST

Kenya’s men predict seventh straight London title

AP
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Marathon elite men runners, from left, Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, Duncan Kibet of Kenya, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya and Abei Kirui of Kenya pose during a photocall in London ahead of Sunday's London Marathon, on Friday. Photo: AP.
Marathon elite men runners, from left, Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, Duncan Kibet of Kenya, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya and Abei Kirui of Kenya pose during a photocall in London ahead of Sunday's London Marathon, on Friday. Photo: AP.

Kenya’s men expect a seventh straight London Marathon title on Sunday despite a late arrival in Britain and the absence of injured three—time winner Martin Lel.

Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru, world champion Abel Kirui and Duncan Kibet arrived in London three days before the race because of disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

Wanjiru, who won last year in a course—record time when Lel was also absent, said the trio’s five—stop journey from Kenya had left them drained but still confident in the value of their teamwork.

“I’m a little worried now but after a good sleep I will start to look forward to it,” Wanjiru said on Friday. “The problem affected everybody but the organizers were very good.”

The trio intend to work as a team for much of the race to continue a run of Kenyan success that began in 2004 with Evans Rutto.

Kibet said they will run together for 35 kilometers (21.8 miles) of the 42—kilometer (26.2—mile) course before they start to fight among themselves for supremacy.

“You cannot achieve things in this race alone,” Kirui said. “Maybe after 35 kilometers we will go it alone but at the end, if one of us wins, we will all celebrate because it will be an achievement for all of us.”

Forecasters predict an unseasonably warm temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) for Sunday’s race.

That could help Wanjiru, who won in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 10 seconds last year but was still disappointed to miss Haile Gebrselassie’s world record after being on schedule at the 30—kilometer mark.

Gebrselassie ran the 2008 Berlin Marathon in 2:03:59.

“I wouldn’t talk about the world record here,” Wanjiru said. “The course is difficult with slopes and corners. But if the weather is good I think I will run faster than last year.”

For all the talk of teamwork, Wanjiru thinks his biggest rival Sunday will be Ethiopa’s Tsegaye Kebede, last year’s runner—up.

“My preparation has been very good and I’m confident that I will have a good result this year,” Kebede said. “I’m prepared to win. One can’t run alone.

“In order to win you must run with somebody. Wanjiru being there encourages me to push more.”

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