Nairobi – Kenyan legend Geoffrey Mutai said Friday he can run a 2hr 4min marathon and set a new course record when he hits the mean streets of New York on November 3.
Mutai, 31, was forced to drop out of the London marathon in April with an hamstring injury, but says he is back to full fitness Ä which he has demonstrated with a 59:06 half marathon in Udine, Italy last month.
He also said he was inspired by his compatriot and occasional training partner Wilson Kipsang, who set a new official marathon world record of 2hr 3min 23sec in Berlin last weekend.
“Wilson's performance in Berlin has given me the extra impetus to do well in New York. I know the course is very tough but running 2:04 can be achievable if the weather is good,” Mutai told AFP from his training base in Kenya's Rift Valley region.
Mutai set the current New York marathon course record of 2:05.05 in 2011, laying waste to his rivals with a devastating solo breakaway through the notoriously tough final hills of New York's Central Park. Last year's New York marathon was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, making Mutai the defending champion.
“The marathon is becoming increasingly competitive and I am happy that there will be a strong field to compete against in New York. I am not afraid of anyone. My target will be to run my own race,” Mutai said.
Mutai's performance will be a highlight of the autumn marathon season: he ran the fastest marathon time ever recorded to win the 2011 Boston Marathon men's crown in 2:03:02, although the time is not recognised as a world record by the IAAF because of course elevation issues.
He also threw down a 2012 world best of 2:04:15 in Berlin, securing the 2011-12 World Marathon Majors series title.
Mutai will face stiff opposition from the world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, who has emerged as a surprise rival to the usually dominant Kenyans. Fellow Kenyans Stanley Biwott, Wesley Korir and Peter Kirui, the 2012 New York half marathon champion, will also be in the mix.
The women's field includes two leading Kenyans Edna Kiplagat, the two-time world champion, and the 2013 London marathon winner Prisca Jeptoo. – Sapa-AFP