Nairobi, Oct 15 (IANS) Kenya's Bernard Kipyego will be aiming for his third successive title at the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday.
The 30-year-old will be one of 15 runners in the elite men's race who have run under two hours and 10 minutes and he is the sixth fastest in the line-up with a 2:06:19, which he attained last year in winning the Amsterdam marathon, reports Xinhua.
This year Kipyego has his focus on improving his personal best time and claim the course record.
"I am in great shape and winning the race for the third time will be a great bonus to me. But importantly will be the course record and fast time," he said.
Also at stake is a battle for the very unofficial title of "Mr. Amsterdam" between multiple winners Kipyego and Wilson Chebet.
Kipyego won the last two editions, succeeding Chebet, the winner in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Chebet also lowered the course record to 2:05:36 in his last victory, five seconds faster than his winning time the year before. Since then he' s been known in Dutch running circles as "Mr. Amsterdam" .
For Kipyego, Sunday's race will mark his first step towards his next major goal: selection to the Kenyan squad for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
"In Amsterdam I will try to set a first step for the (London 2017) championship," Kipyego said, trying to put the disappointment of not making the Rio 2016 squad behind him.
Last year he set a 2:06:19 personal best in the Dutch capital. In February he was second in Tokyo in 2:07:33. "Now I am ready for the course record here," the 30-year-old said.
And yes, he added with a smile, he confirmed his ambitions to become the next "Mr. Amsterdam".
Chebet meanwhile will be on the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium start line for the sixth year in a row. He hasn't been at his fastest the past two years, running 2:08:48 in Boston in 2014 to finish second and 2:08:45 in Amsterdam last year.
But the 31-year-old Kenyan may be on an upswing in 2016, with 28:37 and 1:01:35 season' s bests to his credit over 10km and the half in New York.
One of the pair's main rivals will be Sammy Kitwara who' ll be making his Amsterdam debut. He was sixth in Boston this year in 2:16:43 and second in Chicago one year ago where he clocked 2:09:50.
There is also Laban Korir (2:06:05) of Kenya, Ethiopians Mule Wasihun (2:05:44) and Abera Kuma (2:05:56). The line-up also includes last year's runner-up Ezekiel Chebii (2:07:18) while the top non-East Africans include Dutch favourites Koen Raymaekers (2:10:35) and Khalid Choukoud (2:10:52) and USA's Fernando Cabada (2:11:36).