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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The 2019 edition of ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon this Friday will have 16,000 participants - a major increase from 10,000 runners last year, organisers said. Elite athletes - male and female - will be vying for not just winners' purse of $100,000 each but also set record timings as they eye a final hurrah in 42.195km race.
Defending champion Marius Kipserem, who notched personal best of 2:04:11 at Rotterdam Marathon early this year, is ready for challenge from aspirants.
"I am here to defend my title. I improved my time at Rotterdam Marathon by 16 seconds. I know it will be a difficult field here but I am ready," the 31-year-old Kenyan said during pre-race press conference.
Lucas Rotich, who returns from career-threatening injury, is hoping to have a good time on the main day. "I have trained with a big team. I am lucky to be able to compete with someone like Marius Kipserem, who is the best marathon runner at the moment," said the 29-year-old Kenyan who wants to improve on his season best of 2:09:48 from Hamburg Marathon.
One of the title challengers is Abrha Asefa Milaw who took season and personal best at Paris Marathon with time of 2:07:05. "Yes, I am very happy with my performance in Paris. I want to continue that run and prepared very well," the 31-year-old Ethiopian said.
Meanwhile, female elite runner Vivian Kiplagat - the 2019 Milano Marathon record-holder with a time of 2:22:25 - has warned other competitors. "I have taken part in three marathons this year but I want to give my best here," the Kenyan athlete said.
Eunice Chumba Chebichii was second in the 2018 ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon. She clocked 2:24:27 at Rotterdam Marathon in 2017, which is her best.
"I have done half-marathon in 66 seconds. I need to improve my personal best time on Friday."
Caroline Kilel has season best of 2:35:59 at Hengushi Marathon this year. She is eyeing a time of 2:26 on Friday. "I have prepared very well."
There will be new race courses, including major landmarks like Qasr Al Hosn. The race will start in front of the ADNOC headquarters and move along the Corniche through Emirates Palace, Founder's Memorial, Corniche beach, Zayed Port, Qasr Al Hosn, World Trade Centre, Heritage Village and Marina Mall. Officials promise the biggest and best sporting event.
"Level of racing has risen this season in marathons across the world. We have improved the course. It's fast and flat course," ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon race director Andrea Trabuio said.
Apart from marathon for elites, there's wheelchair and various other categories with overall prize money of $388,000. The race starts 6 am on Friday.
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