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Kenya’s Mutai seeks his third TCS NYC Marathon victory

Jaime C. Harris | 11/2/2017, 4:27 p.m.
The nation of Kenya has produced some of the greatest distance runners in the history of track and field. Thirty-six-year-old ...
Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya), the world marathon record holder (2:03.02, Boston), is the New York City Marathon defending champ (2011). The 2012 race was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Bill Moore

The nation of Kenya has produced some of the greatest distance runners in the history of track and field. Thirty-six-year-old Geoffrey Kiprono Mutai has etched his name among them. Sunday, he will seek to become the first man to win three New York City Marathon titles since the legendary Cuban-born Alberto Salazar accomplished the feat 35 years ago.

A Kenyan has won five of the past nine NYC Marathons in the men’s division, led by Mutai’s victories in 2010 and 2013. The probability of the East African country adding another title in Sunday’s 44th running of the event is high as Mutai will be joined by his countryman, 2014 champion Wilson Kipsang.

However, the duo, which has at times trained together, will have daunting challenges as Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, who finished second in 2014 and third two years ago in New York, and won the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, is prime for a win. Another Ethiopian, Gebre Gebremariam, who took home gold in his NYC Marathon debut in 2010, is vying for a return to the top of the podium and $100,000 first prize payment.

New York City fan favorite Meb Keflezighi will head the American contingent of marathoners as he seeks his second victory on the 26.2 course. In 2009, Keflezighi, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Eritea, became the first American man to win in New York since Salazar’s 1982 triumph. Salazar immigrated to the U.S. with his family as a child and became a high school star growing up in Wayland, Mass. The affable 42-year-old Keflezighi also added to his lore when he won the 2014 Boston Marathon, the first American to do so since 1983.

With so many decorated and better known competitors, Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich enters Sunday’s race relatively under the radar. Yet the 28-year-old, who won gold in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, possesses the talent to earn his first New York City victory.

The Professional Men’s division will begin their arduous trek through the five boroughs at 9:50 a.m. at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Staten Island.