Kenya's Marius Kipserem will face his compatriot Dickson Chumba in his quest to defend Abu Dhabi marathon title

Kenya's Marius Kipserem believes nothing will stop him in his bid to retain the Abu Dhabi Marathon on Friday.

The women's race will invoke a teammate rivalry as Kenya's Vivian Kiplagat (2:22:25) and Bahrain's Eunice Chumba (2:24:27), who is 10,000m silver medalist of Asian Athletics Championships in Wuhan, China.

However, unlike last year during the inaugural race, Kipserem will have to dig deeper if he has to keep at bay his rivals led by compatriot and former Chicago and Tokyo Marathon winner Dickson Chumba.

"I have done well in training and am focused on the race in Abu Dhabi. I have no pressure whatsoever because I know what work, I have put in and what is expected.

There are other runners with a higher pedigree and records, but the reality on the race day is how prepared one is in the mind and fitness," Kipserem said on Tuesday.

Kipserem won the 2018 Rotterdam in 2:06:11 in April and improved that record to 2:4:12 in Abu Dhabi in December.

"I am going to defend my title and hopefully with a better time than last year," Kipserem added. In winning the inaugural race in Abu Dhabi, Kipserem stopped the clock at 2:04:12.

He is hoping to shave off two minutes to join the elusive club of marathon runners who have hit the two hours and two minutes' mark, currently held by just around four runners - Kenenisa Bekele (2:01.42), Eliud Kipchoge (2:01.39), Birhanu Legese and Dennis Kimetto.

"Everyone wants to compete in the big city marathons and after Abu Dhabi, I believe London will be the next stage, which I consider a good trial for the Tokyo Olympics. London is very important for me because a good result can earn me a spot in Kenya's four-member marathon team at the Olympics," he added.

Kipserem made the Kipchoge's INEOS 1:59 Challenge. He was part of the 31 pacesetters, who were contracted to help Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge to accomplish his task to become the first man to run the 42km distance in less than two hours. Kipchoge stopped the clock at 1:59.40.

Chumba (2:04:32), who will provide the challenge to Kipserem, has not had a good season. He failed to defend his Tokyo marathon title and was seventh at the Chicago marathon in October.

"I feel strong after the Chicago race. In Tokyo, it was wet and slippery and I had to slow down to avoid injury. I have not raced since then and will be happy to go to Abu Dhabi and win against the strong athletes lined up," Chumba said.

posted Tuesday December 3rd