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The 26-year-old Kenyan set his lifetime best of 2:06:10 when winning in the French capital two years ago. He came close to that mark last year when he retained his title in 2:06:25, the second-fastest time of his career.
He hasn’t raced since then, however, and he picked up a slight injury last week when he slipped and fell in training, but he insisted that it shouldn’t affect his ability to compete on Sunday.
Lonyangata faces a tough challenge, though, as he will line up against fellow Kenyans Augustine Choge, Hillary Kipsambu, Ishmael Bushendich and Barselius Kipyego, plus a duo of Ethiopian men with sub-2:05 PRs: Asefa Mengistu and Yemane Tsegay.
Choge, one of the most versatile distance runners in the world over the past decade, has won global medals indoors, outdoors and at cross country. The 32-year-old has moved to the roads in recent years and clocked 59:26 for the half marathon in 2017. His marathon debut in Chicago last year ended with a DNF but he is aiming for a better result in Paris.
With a best of 2:04:06, Mengistu is the fastest man in the field. A past winner in Seoul, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, he set his PR when placing fourth in Dubai in 2018. He finished third in Dubai this year and came close to his best with 2:04:24.
Tsegay’s PR of 2:04:48 dates back to 2012, but the 34-year-old is still highly competitive and won in Ottawa last year. More recently he finished runner-up in Fukuoka four months ago.
Nicolas Navarro, the second-fastest marathon runner in France last year, leads the domestic charge and will aim to improve on his PR of 2:12:39.
Almost all of the leading contenders in the women’s race set their PRs in 2018, so will be heading to the French capital in good form.
Gelete Burka – who, like Choge, has won global medals across a range of distances – is the most decorated athlete in the field. Winner of the 2006 world cross-country short course title and 2008 world indoor 1500m title, the 33-year-old Ethiopian finally conquered the marathon distance in 2018, clocking a PR of 2:20:45 in Dubai and then going on to win in Ottawa in 2:22:17, the first marathon victory of her career.
Kenyan athletes have won the past three women’s races at the Paris Marathon and 2014 world half marathon bronze medallist Sally Chepyego leads their charge this year. The experienced 33-year-old set her marathon PR of 2:23:15 when finishing second in Ljubljana last year.(04/12/2019) ⚡AMP
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