By James Bakama
London Marathon (Sunday)
One of the worst things is knowing little about your opponent.
Stephen Kiprotich won’t be in that kind of scenario when he makes his second attempt at the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday.
The Olympic and World Championship gold medallist won’t be amidst strangers in London, as he has not only competed against most of the big names in this race, but has also trained with them.
Kiprotich has been fine-tuning in the Kenya highlands just like British Superstar Mo Farah, world record holder Wilson Kipsang, London marathon record holder Geoffrey Mutai and Paris marathon champion Stanley Biwott.
The four athletes together with several other runners left the high altitude camps for London on the same flight on Monday night.
Kiprotich’s manager Godfrey Nuwangaba is optimistic that his athlete’s training in the same conditions with the opposition should enhance Uganda’s chances.
He is in fine spirits
“He is fi t and was also in good spirits as they left for London,” noted Nuwagaba however refusing to commit himself on whether Kiprotich will take the big prize.
Kiprotich finished sixth in two hours 08.05 minutes in last year’s edition of the race.
Farah, who has been based at a small town in Iten, was all praises for the Kenyan experience.
“Life is simple. Eat, sleep and train. It’s worked for me, so I wanted to do it again.”
Training at high altitude in the Great Rift Valley has been a key part of the double Olympic and world championship gold medalist’s success in recent times and he has based himself there for much of the year.
Kebede is a threat
Training elsewhere in Ethiopia has been defending champion Tsegay Kebede and 2011 10000m world champion Ibrahim Jeilan, who like Farah is also making a marathon debut.
Kebede ran his personal best of 2:04:38 to win the 2012 Chicago Marathon and he clinched the 2012/13 half million dollar World Marathon Majors prize when he was second in the New York Marathon last November.
The second quickest man in the field is Emmanuel Mutai who set the course record when he won the London Marathon in 2011.
The Kenyan looked odds on to win again last year until Kebede overtook him in the final mile.