Andrew Kwemoi eyes more capital gains as he prepares for Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon

In-form Ugandan has happy memories of UAE race while Kosgei starts a clear favourite in women's elite competition

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Andrew Kwemoi, the first Ugandan to win the Milano Marathon, hopes to crown a breakthrough year with victory in Saturday’s fifth Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon.

Kwemoi, 23, has been in good form in 2023 and recorded a personal best of two hours, seven minutes, and 14 seconds, in Milan in April.

He is returning to the UAE capital having picked up a silver medal in the 10k race held at the second Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon in 2019.

“I remember that well. I was 19 and just beginning my professional career,” Kwemoi told The National at the launch ceremony held at the Event Village adjoining Adnoc headquarters on Thursday.

“This time I have come here for the main race and the main prize. It’s only my second marathon after Milano in April. I’m hopeful of replicating that run here in Abu Dhabi. I have prepared for this race for over three months and have come here in good shape. Obviously, it’s a strong field but I’m here ready to run my race.”

Competing for a share of the $303,000 prize fund are some of the top-ranked distance runners in the world, including Kenyan pair Kiptum Barnabas, who finished first in both the 2019 Hong Kong and the 2017 Buenos Aires marathons, and Leonard Barsoton, who set an impressive personal best of 2:09:06 earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, the last-minute withdrawal of Brigid Kosgei’s main challenger, the Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, has left the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist as an overwhelming favourite in the elite women category. The 29-year-old Kosgei took fourth spot at the New York Marathon last month in a time of 2:27.45.

Prior to that, she won the Chicago Marathon in 2018 and 2019, and the London Marathon in 2019 and 2020. She was also runner up in the Chicago Marathon in 2017 and in London in 2018.

“This is my first time in Abu Dhabi and I have come here to run my race and win the prize,” she said. “It’s hard to predict the results and breaking the course record. My colleagues Vivian Kiplagat (2019) and Judith Korir (2021) have won this race before and I would be hoping to join them on the roll of honour list in Abu Dhabi.”

The race organisers have put together a strong female elite field to chase the course record of 2:20.41 set two years ago by Eunice Chumba from Bahrain.

The event is set to draw more than 23,000 runners across various distances, including the marathon (42.195km), marathon relay, 10km, 5km, 2.5km races, and the wheelchair race for People of Determination.

Updated: February 12, 2024, 4:34 AM