Kenya's Kirui, Kimetto face injury challenge in quest for Chicago Marathon crown

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NAIROBI, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Mental fight to stay injury free and deliver victory will inspire both Kenyan defending champion Abel Kirui and world marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto in their quest to win the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.

The two are part of the Kenyan contingent that left for the United States on Thursday hoping the weather will be conducive for them to run faster time, though the duo ruled out an attempt on the world record, which stands at 2:02.57.

"It is about running fast time and improvement. But the world record is pushing too far and I believe all that is important is to win the race and let the time aspect fall into perspective," Kirui said on Thursday in Nairobi.

The Chicago Marathon men's line-up has five athletes who have run under two hours and six minutes.

The line-up is headed by Kimetto (2:02:57) and champ Kirui (2:05:04) along with Ethiopians Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52) and Sisay Lemma (2:05:16) and former New York Marathon winner Stanley Biwott from Kenya (2:03:51).

Other top names include Olympic bronze medallist Galen Rupp (2:09:58), Kenyans Ezekiel Chebii (2:06:07) and Bernard Kipyego (2:06:19) and world half marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese from Eritrea (2:10:41).

The women's elite field is headed by Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba (2:17:56 PB), reigning champion Florence Kiplagat (2:19:44 PB) and top US distance runner Jordan Hasay (2:23:00 PB).

Kirui, who won the title, last year in two hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds is certain he can lower his time.

"I have finished my training and I will be looking forward to doing well in the race where I want to lower my time and also retain my title," said Kirui.

However, seeing his training partner and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge win Berlin Marathon last month has heaped pressure on Kirui to deliver similar performance.

"We all train together and we know how strong one is even before a race. Kipchoge did his part in Berlin and there was no question about his strength. Now it is about me in Chicago," he said. "It will not be easy but I hope the tactics will come in play when needed most."

The women's field has defending champion Florence Kiplagat, gunning for the third victory in Chicago, propelled by compatriot Valentine Kipketer to weather any challenge from Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba. Enditem

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