Former Olympic and world steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi will begin another chapter in his career as he plans to make his marathon debut in Hamburg on April 28

The steeplechase legend, 37-year-old Ezekiel Kemboi, believes he still has a lot to offer as he transits from the track to the marathon distance. So far he has run nine 10km road races, with the latest two being in Prague where he clocked 29:59, later improving his time to 29:54 in Italy last year. His personal best in the 10km race is 28:38, set in 2011.

"Today I did my speed work in readiness for the Hamburg Marathon in April. It will be my debut after a long steeplechase season," said Kemboi on Wednesday in Eldoret.

The steeplechase champion has joined a team of marathon runners to try to help him polish his skills and improve his endurance to last the full distance in a competition believed to be the hardest in athletics.

"I am motivated by Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, with whom I ran during the 2003 World Championships. I will be venturing into the 42km race, where I want to perform as well as on track," added Kemboi.

But Kemboi should not expect any favors as he moves up to the marathon distance. Former two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui, who will also be running in Hamburg, has stated his own intentions ahead of that event.

"It will be a big challenge for me as I will be preparing to beat Eliud Kipchoge's course record of 2:05:30. It will be a big show and I welcome the fans to cheer me on."

Kirui and Kemboi will not only face the challenge of beating the course record, but will come up against the formidable Ethiopian duo of Ayele Abshero and Dibabe Kuma.

The course record has remained since 2012 when Kipchoge first ventured into the marathon, also picking Hamburg for his debut. However, Kemboi does not expect anyone to compare him with Kipchoge, as he seeks to chart his own course in the unknown waters.

The athlete, who trains in Eldoret, said that he has been training hard and has already had his fair share of success.

"Many people have been asking where I have been and they will get answers soon after seeing my performance. I have competed in 10 road races and won seven of them, and that shows good progress," said Kemboi.

posted Wednesday February 27th