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Athletics: World's best eye new marathon record in London

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Kenya's top marathon runners say the men's world record has every chance of going down on the streets of London next month.

The April 21 London Marathon will feature the strongest men's marathon field ever assembled, with the top 11 men all with personal bests under 2hr 06min.

In the elite pack are the three London Olympic medallists and the winners of the 2012 Berlin, Chicago, London, Frankfurt and Dubai Marathons.

Kenya's Patrick Makau, who set the standing world record of 2:03:38 in Berlin in 2011, said there is a strong chance that time will be beaten on the relatively fast London course.

"If the weather conditions are good, we will all be in the mix to attempt the world record. I expect a very fast race considering the strong Kenyan line-up," he told AFP.

Makau, who had a disappointing 2012 due to injury, said he was now back in form.

"I am in a better shape. Obviously as the holder of the world record, I hope I will break the time I set in Berlin. But I wouldn't be surprised if any of us breaks the record as we have been running very good times recently."

Wilson Kipsang, the defending London champion whose personal best is a mere four seconds off the world record, also predicted a hard and fast pace will be forced early on in the race to weed out the slower but more tactical competition.

"Three of us have ran under 2:04 and four others have come under 2:05. I expect a very competitive race. I don't see any athlete from another country challenging the Kenyans," he said from his Rift Valley home of Iten.

"I will be under a lot of pressure against one of the strongest fields ever. But England is like a second home for me, I won two races there last year," Kipsang said.

Eyes will also be on Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest marathon runner in 2012. Mutai also holds the world best time of 2:03:02, set in Boston in 2011. That did not count as an official world record, however, because the Boston course has a not downhill.

The 31-year-old Mutai, who will be running in London for the first time, also said the running would be tough.

"This will be my first time competing against such an elite field in a big city marathon. As always in such events, you either make or break each other. You have to be tough mentally," he told AFP.

"Whatever happens I will do my best," he said, giving little away as to his current form. "I will run my own race to the end."

The top non-Kenyan challengers are Ethiopia's Ayele Abshero and Tsegaye Kebede, both 2:04 runners.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/athletics-worlds-best-eye-new-marathon-record-london-0