Athletics: Korir ready to fight in NYC Marathon title defence

The women’s field took a hit when Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir withdrew due to injury in October. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK – The New York City Marathon welcomes back a capacity crowd on Sunday for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as Kenyan Albert Korir defends his title and women’s world champion Gotytom Gebreslase fights for another podium finish in a stellar year.

The 50,000-plus athletes expecting one of the Big Apple’s crisp autumn days at the year’s final marathon major will be sorely disappointed as a balmy high of 22.8 deg C is forecast.

But the elite field told reporters on Thursday that fans can expect fireworks, nonetheless.

“We have to fight because everybody is coming here to win,” said Korir, who won by a confident 44sec margin a year ago after settling for second spot in 2019. “I came here to defend my title.”

The biggest threat standing in his way is Kenyan Evans Chebet, who makes his New York debut after winning Boston in 2022 and finishing just off the podium in London in 2021.

Chebet, the fastest in the field with a personal best of 2hr 3min, said he would try to replicate his strategy in April in Boston, where he pulled away around the 35km mark.

His coach Claudio Berardelli said: “He would like to reach 30km with good feelings and then to start putting his mental focus in approaching 35 and then, from there, if he feels okay, to do something similar to what he did in Boston, to try his chances to go and win the race.”

The women’s field took a hit when Olympic champion and 2021 New York winner Peres Jepchirchir withdrew due to injury in October, months after she won Boston in a staggering run of superb performances.

Her absence means only one past winner – 2010 champion Edna Kiplagat, now 42 – will feature in the women’s professional field, making it anyone’s race to win.

Israeli Lonah Chemtai Salpeter is the fastest in the field with a personal best of 2:17:45 that she produced to win the Tokyo Marathon in 2020.

She finished third in Eugene this summer but faces a major threat from Ethiopian Gebreslase.

The world champion won in Berlin in 2021 and finished third in Tokyo in 2022, telling reporters that she knew there was a target on her back.

Gebreslase said: “Because I won at the world championships, they will be expecting something from me.”

Keira D’Amato appears to be the best home hope after winning the Houston Marathon in a fast 2:19:12, with 2018 Boston winner Des Linden another contender. REUTERS

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