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Tokyo Marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki believes he is on a good trajectory to dominate the road races and will hope to add the Gifu Half Marathon title to his collection on Sunday.
Karoki hopes to make the Kenya team to this year's World Championships in Doha, Qatar, but would prefer to run in the marathon, having failed on three occasions to win the 10,000m race.
"I have always had a fast-paced first phase of my marathon races, or even on track, but I am not strong in finishing," said Karoki on Tuesday. "I have the much-needed experience in marathon and track and I hope for a break this time around."
Karoki faces Jorum Okumbo and Japanese former marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara.
The fastest entrant in the women's race is Chepngetich's teammate Joan Chelimo, who clocked 65:04 to win in Prague last year.
However, Chepngetich is certain her strong preparations for the race will pay dividends, enabling her prevail and win gold over the 21km distance.
"I want to use the race as part of my preparation for the marathon," she said on Tuesday in Nairobi. "There are stronger and faster athletes in the race, but it will not be important on race day because how you run on that day is what is important. I hope to be successful."
Bahrain's Olympic marathon silver medalist Eunice Kirwa will also be staking her claim to the title in her bid to dominate the Asian road races.
Kirwa, who trains and lives in Eldoret and raced for Kenya until 2013, will have to be cautious of the challenge her former teammates will pose.
Also featuring will be world marathon champion Rose Chelimo of Bahrain and Japan's Miyuki Uehara.
Chelimo has had a poor season this year, finishing in position 41 at the World Half Marathon championships, and was eighth at the Tokyo Marathon in March.
However, a win on her return to Japan in Nagano will boost her credentials as she prepares to defend her crown at the 2019 World Championships in Doha this October.
"I did everything right in my preparations for the Tokyo Marathon, but I was not lucky enough to win," said Chelimo.(04/16/2019) Views: 1,989 ⚡AMP
The Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon is an annual half marathon road running competition held in Gifu, Japan. First held in 2011, the race is also called the Naoko Takahashi Cup, named after Naoko Takashi, the retired local runner who won the marathon at the 2000 Sidney Olympics and broke the marathon world record in 2001, becoming the first woman to...more...