October 31, 2019 / 6:45 PM / 21 days ago

Past winners at core of Big Apple marathon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Past winners will look to build on their dynasties at the New York City Marathon on Sunday, with returning champion Mary Keitany poised to reclaim her crown and a trio of veterans favored in the men’s division.

FILE PHOTO: Runners race during the 2018 New York City Marathon in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Defending men’s champion Lelisa Desisa, who claimed victory in the World Athletics Championship marathon in sweltering Doha earlier in October, said he had focused on recuperating in between races.

“Doha is very hot, it is very difficult to run,” said the Ethiopian, who hopes to compete in next year’s Tokyo Olympics. “After Doha I tried to take recovery and I did recovery training. Marathon is not easy, my friend.”

A month-and-a-half after setting a world record in the half marathon, Geoffrey Kamworor was not fazed by New York City’s varied terrain, where he claimed his maiden World Marathon Major title in 2017.

“I did what I normally do to run a marathon. I think I’m ready, I don’t have any pressure,” said Kamworor, who has run the race four times and finished third last year.

“To me, I have familiarized myself with the course and I don’t have any challenges.”

Shura Kitata, who lost to Desisa by two seconds a year ago and came in fourth in London earlier this year, is out for revenge, saying on Twitter that he had failed to fuel properly for the race.

The women’s field appears more lopsided, with returning champion Keitany the favorite after reigning Boston Marathon champion Worknesh Degefa dropped out earlier this month, citing a foot injury that caused her to lose too much training time.

“My training has been going well. I think I didn’t change too much and I trained well. No problem,” said Keitany. “I’m ready to tackle my race.”

Asked whether she was aiming for a course record, one of a rare few accolades she has not yet claimed in New York, Keitany deflected the inquiry.

“There are other athletes and I respect them,” the 37-year-old Kenyan told reporters. “For now I’m not talking about any course record.”

The four-time New York City Marathon winner is still far from Grete Waitz’s nine-time winning record, but said a fifth victory would still be sweet, since it would help “catch up.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Dan Grebler

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