They thrilled athletics enthusiasts in Eldoret, a town christened the City of Champions because of the innumerable runners that live in it.
Victor Kipchirchir and Mercy Kipchumba who chalked up victories at the Eldoret City Marathon in June are headed for another attempt to make history at the Abu Dhabi marathon next month.
Will they produce another replica of stunning wins at the second-most populous city of the United Arab Emirates?
The duo told Standard Sport after they were feted in Eldoret on Friday that they hope to end the 2021 season in style. They said they were eyeing wins in the Abu Dhabi Marathon.
After running an impressive 2:08 in Eldoret, an elevation of 2,100m, Kipchirchir went ahead to win Padova half marathon in Italy on September 26.
He said he has been preparing for the Abu Dhabi race in Kaptagat since winning the half marathon in Italy.
“Eldoret City Marathon was tough and it is preparing me for the Abu Dhabi marathon. My aim is to post better results than what I recorded in June,” Kipchirchir said.
On whether he will defend his Eldoret City Marathon title in April next year, Kipchirchir said: “My hope is to defend my title. I am however yet to consult with my coach and management on the races I am scheduled to take part in, next year.”
Kipchumba said she had recovered from an injury she picked during training, after winning the Eldoret marathon race, and that she is ready to race in Abu Dhabi.
She said she has been preparing for the race in Kapsait, Elgeyo Marakwet where she trains alongside women’s marathon world record Brigid Kosgei under coach Erick Kimaiyo.
Like Kipchirchir, the tough Eldoret City marathon hardened her.
“I am now targeting a good performance in Abu Dhabi. I picked an injury and I am in good form now,” Kipchumba said.
They will be going to the Asian country, not just for the win, but for hefty prize money. The total prize fund for the Abu Dhabi Marathon is US$303,000 (Sh33.6 million) and will be shared among top performers across the marathon and 10km as well as the wheelchair race.
Elite men and women’s marathon winners will be taking home US$50,000 (Sh5.5 million) each, according to Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the race organiser.
In the last edition in 2019, it was a double win for Kenya with Reuben Kipyego and Vivian Kiplagat claiming victory.