Kenya's champ Ondoro returns to Houston eyeing to reclaim marathon title

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NAIROBI, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Two years since he braved hot and humid conditions to win in Houston, Dominic Ondoro will lead Kenyan charges to the marathon course on Jan. 20.

Ondoro had a torrid start to the 2018 season losing his title last year to Ethiopian challenge. He developed complication midway the race and had to be carried out in an ambulance.

He also failed to finish in his second race of the season in Los Angeles. However, he recovered from his condition and was seventh at the Ottawa Marathon in 2:15:16 and in October he was second at the Melbourne Marathon (2:16:55).

However, he faces stiff challenge in his bid to reclaim the Houston Marathon crown with Ethiopians Abayneh Ayele (2:06:45) and Yitayal Atnafu (2:07:00) leading the elite list.

"My aim this time round, of course, is to win the race," said Ondoro on Thursday in Eldoret.

"I think the weather affected me last year, but despite all that I am ready to challenge for the honors irrespective of who else is running."

The Kenyan believes he catapulted on the global scene when he won in Houston and will always feel indebted to the city.

"Winning Houston Marathon was one of my most favorite moments in road running," said Ondoro. "I am optimistic about running a personal best time. I also see a potential of breaking the course record."

Other Kenyans in the race include Albert Korir (2:08:17), Justus Kimutai (2:09:29), Elisha Barno (2:09:45) and Henry Lelei, who will be making his debut in marathon.

"Once again, our elite team continues to draw a competitive international field," said Chevron Houston Marathon Race Director Brant Kotch.

The women race will see Kenya parade two experienced runners Sarah Kiptoo (2:26:32) and Gladys Kipsoi (2:27:32).

They will team up against Ethiopian onslaught led by defending champion Biruktayit Degefa (2:23:51) and American long-distance star Kara Goucher (2:24:52).

In the half marathon distance, Kenya's Fancy Chemutai (64:52), the second fastest woman in history, leads top fields in Houston as she pushes for another top finish and boosts her chance of making the Kenya team to the World Championships.

Other Kenyans in the race are Edith Chelimo, Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono, Mary Wacera and Chicago Marathon winner Brigid Kosgei. Enditem

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