Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele runs during the Men’s elite race at the London marathon on April 23, 2017 in London. / AFP PHOTO

History and pride clearly describes the 50th New York City Marathon that gets underway today at 3:30pm.

Two multiple world champions have trained their sights on the big prize purse as they battle at the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race for the first time.

New York Marathon has not been kind to Olympic champions since its inception 50 years ago.

Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir and Ethiopia’s multiple Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele would be out to break the jinx this afternoon.

Another athlete to have already made history is Kibiwott Kandie, who became the first to dip under 58 minutes for the half marathon when setting his world record of 57:32 in Valencia last year. Now the 25-year-old, who ran 26:51 for 10km last month, makes his marathon debut.

For Jepchirchir the event comes three months after her Olympic triumph in Sapporo, where she posted 2:27:20, while three-time Olympic track champion Bekele is back in action six weeks after placing third in Berlin Marathon. They are certainly no strangers to success, but they will both face some tough competition when they line up in the Big Apple today.

Jepchirchir leads the entries for the women’s race and sits fifth on the world all-time list with her Personal Best of 2:17:16, set when winning the Valencia Marathon last December.

But among those looking to deny Jepchirchir a fairytale in New York will be Ethiopia’s 2019 Tokyo Marathon winner Ruti Aga, Namibia’s world bronze medallist Helalia Johannes and the USA’s Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel.

Aga and Johannes join Jepchirchir in having a sub 2:20 best times. Aga, who finished third at the New York City Marathon in 2019, ran 2:18:34 to finish second in Berlin in 2018, while Johannes, who placed 11th in the Tokyo Olympic marathon, has a best of 2:19:52 set when finishing third in last year’s Valencia Marathon won by Jepchirchir.

Seidel also makes her New York City Marathon debut, three months after she ran 2:27:46 for bronze in Sapporo. Her Personal Best of 2:25:13 was set in London last year.

Joining them in the field are the USA’s 2016 New York runner up Sally Kipyego, Laura Thweatt, Stephanie Bruce and Kellyn Taylor while Kenya’s Viola Cheptoo Lagat, the sister of five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat who is part of the broadcast team for the event, makes her marathon debut.

Bekele might have three Olympic titles, five world track titles and 11 senior world cross country titles, but Ethiopian running great Bekele is still looking to make history in the sport and next on his list is a win in New York.

His Personal Best of 2:01:41, set when winning the 2019 Berlin Marathon, is just two seconds off Eliud Kipchoge’s world record and the 39-year-old says he has recovered well after last racing in Germany’s capital city in September.

“The race (in Berlin six weeks ago) was a bit tough for me because the day before I couldn’t sleep well and I was very tired. Now I have recovered well,” he told World Athletics.

 

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