Geoffrey Mutai will try to become just the third man to win the New York City Marathon three times in a row on Sunday
The last man to accomplish the feat was Alberto Salazar in 1980, ’81 and ’82. Another American, Bill Rodgers, won four straight titles in New York immediately before Salazar’s run, while Mutai’s two wins to date came in 2011 and 2013—with the 2012 edition cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.
Kenya’s Mutai will be trying to make it three-for-three in New York, hoping to rebound from a 2:08:18 at the London marathon where he finished sixth in a race won by Wilson Kipsang.
The occasional training partners will clash again, with Mutai hoping to take advantage of Kipsang’s inexperience on the New York course to reassert himself over a rival he has beaten in four of their five head-to-head meetings.
Kipsang was eclipsed as the world’s fastest marathon runner just a few weeks ago when Dennis Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai ran under Kipsang’s previous world record of 2:03:23 at the Berlin Marathon.
With a win in New York, Kipsang could overtake Kimetto for the World Marathon Majors series bonus of US$ 500,000 (KES 44.6mn).
“So it’s just a matter of running my own race and targeting really to win,” he said.
Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa and Gebre Gebremariam are also contenders, while reigning World and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich, a 25-year-old Ugandan, could also be a factor.
Priscah Jeptoo, who won last year’s race in 2:25:07, withdrew from the her title defence in October with a leg injury she suffered in the London Marathon.
That opened up a women’s field featuring Kenyan Mary Keitany and Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba.
Keitany, 32, hasn’t participated in a marathon since the London Olympics and gave birth to a baby girl in February.
“What I can say is that my body has done well in the 10K and half marathon. On Sunday (today), we will see if I am fit enough and if my body has resumed,” said Keitany, who’ll be challenging for the course record of 2:22:31, set by Margaret Okayo back in 2003.