Marius Kipserem to use Abu Dhabi Marathon as launchpad to Olympic glory

Winner of the inaugural race in 2018 is looking forward to defending his title this year, then switching his focus to the London Marathon and 2020 Tokyo Games

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Marius Kipserem from Kenya, last yearsÕ winner at the launch of ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon at ADNOC Headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
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Marius Kipserem, winner of the inaugural Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon, will use second staging of the race as a launchpad for the London Marathon – and a possible qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kipserem, 31, is the first confirmed men’s elite runner for the 42.2 kilometre race and will arrive for his title defence in the capital in top form.

The Kenyan is taking the same path as last year that gave him both the Rotterdam and Abu Dhabi marathon titles in new course record and personal best timings.

Kipserem won the 2018 Rotterdam in 2 hours, 6 minutes and 11 seconds in April and improved that record to 2:4:12 in Abu Dhabi in December.

In April this year, he retained the Rotterdam title in a new personal best time of 2:4:11 and is confident of improving it in Abu Dhabi on December 6.

"I enjoyed every moment of the race in Abu Dhabi but this time I want to use it as a launchpad for London," Kipserem told The National during the launch of the race route at the Adnoc Headquarters in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“The London Marathon [in April 2020] is very important for me because a good result can earn me a spot in Kenya’s four-member marathon team at the Olympics.

“I run only two marathons a year and Abu Dhabi will be the launchpad for London. The Olympics is my biggest dream and hopefully, I can achieve it.”

Kipserem has trained on well since Rotterdam and is looking forward to Abu Dhabi for another record breaking performance.

“The course here suits me well, although there is a slight change on the route from last year but that is not a big issue though,” he said.

"I love it here because of the good weather and the flat and long stretches of road. Having run here before, I feel even more confident of another record breaking performance."

Next month, Kipserem runs as a pacemaker for compatriot and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge on his sub two-hour marathon bid at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna.

“My job is to set the pace for 15 kilometres in the middle part of the race and I’ll be really glad if Eliud can become the first runner to break the two-hour barrier in a marathon,” Kipserem said.

“Eliud is the world record holder and I can learn from him in this race. I will also use it as my speed-work for Abu Dhabi.

"I still don't know of the others entering the Abu Dhabi Marathon but I would expect some of the leading runners from around the world, perhaps, stronger field than last year.

“There may be better moments to come but until now Abu Dhabi remains the top in my list."

The prize fund for the Abu Dhabi event for the second time is over $388,000 (Dh1,425m), with the winners from both the men and women’s races taking home $100,000 each.

Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We expect the second marathon in Abu Dhabi will be even better.

“We have changed the race route slightly to allow runners to hear the cheers of their supporters from the event village on the Adnoc South Plaza.”

Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, executive office director of Adnoc said: “We had more than 10,000 participants from 19 different communities from around the country and the region last year and we expect this number to grow in this year’s race.”