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Uganda’s Thomas Ayeko will be chasing the race course record at Sydney Marathon

Uganda’s Thomas Ayeko best marathon is only 2:12:04, but he has a 1:00:26 half-marathon and a 27:40.96 10,000m (11th in the 2013 World Championships) to his name and was fourth in the 5000m at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. The elite men at the upcoming Syndey marathon will be chasing the race record of 2:11:18 set by Ethiopia’s Gebo Gameda Burka in winning the 2014 race. The race records are modest by the highest international standards, but any road course in Australia’s biggest city is a compromise between aesthetics and degree of difficulty. If you want pancake-flat, better look somewhere else. There are faster runners, but recent history of the men’s race suggests Japanese duo Norikazu Kato and Takumi Honda should be in the lead pack. Since Burka’s record winning performance, there have been three successive Japanese winners. Hisanori Kitajima won in 2015, followed by Tomohiro Tanigawa a year later and then Shota Hattori last year. Sydney will be just the second marathon for Honda. He made his debut in Nobeoka earlier this year, finishing second in 2:12:18. Several others in the field have faster personal bests, but he looks competitive on 2018 performances. Likewise, Kato’s personal best of 2:12:48 came in this year’s Beppu-Oita race in Japan. Sydney will be his first significant race outside Japan. Kenya’s Elija Kemboi is entitled to race favouritism, however. Kemboi has run 2:11:15 or faster each year from 2011 to 2017 and was second in Linz this year in 2:11:30. He has run three sub-2:08 marathons, with a best of 2:07:34, among his seven sub-2:10 performances. If he is in that sort of form again now, he will be very hard to beat and might be the most likely to try an early breakaway. The other sub-2:10 men in the field are Ethiopia’s Birhanu Addisie, who ran 2:09:27 in finishing second in Rome in 2016, and Kenya’s Cosmas Kimutai, who ran 2:09:25 on debut back in 2010, but nothing of similar quality since. (09/14/2018) ⚡AMP

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