The marathon discipline has become a favourite spot for many Ugandan long-distance runners since Stephen Kiprotich’s triumph at the 2012 London Olympics.
The competition now is so vast that nine men have hit the Olympic qualification time of two hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds yet Uganda has only three quota places for the forthcoming Tokyo Games.
Of these men, each is intent on bettering their time over the 42km this month to be best placed for the three coveted slots. And it is why Solomon Mutai and Fred Musobo line-up for the Xiamen Marathon in Siena, Italy today.
Mutai is ranked third on the list having posted a personal best (PB) of 2:08:25 in third place at the Vienna Marathon in Austria on April 7, 2019.
And Musobo is a place ahead in second after a commanding PB of 2:06:56 posted in second at the Daegu Marathon in South Korea on the same day.
Filex Chemonges leads that cast with the national record (NR) of 2:05:12 posted when he finished third at the Toronto Marathon in Canada on October 20, 2019.
But, with the chasing pack including Kiprotich, Geoffrey Kusuro and Filex too set to feature at the postponed NN Hamburg Marathon in Enschede, Netherlands next Sunday, Mutai and Musobo have no room for error.
“I hope I can do something,” a rather soft-spoken Mutai said before flying to Italy.
And even if he failed to finish the night race in Corniche due to a stitch problem amid terrible humid weather during the 2019 Doha World Championships, the 28-year-old rarely has a bad day since his 42km debut with the 2013 Mombasa Marathon victory.
He is second best decorated Ugandan marathoner with a bronze at the 2015 Beijing Worlds and silver from the Gold Commonwealth Games.
Meanwhile, Musobo was Uganda’s best in Doha with a respectable 13th place finish and the 24-year-old’s PB is ranked 14th in the expected field of 58 men. He also won the national half-marathon title in Jinja last month. Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who won the 2018 Valencia Marathon, has the best PB of 2:04:02 in the field.
Elsewhere, Priscilla Chelangat and Immaculate Chemutai will line-up for the women’s race, bidding to hit the 2:29:30 mark to join Juliet Chekwel to Tokyo.
Venue: Siena, Tuscany, Italy
Ugandans in Action: Solomon Mutai, Fred Musobo, Immaculate Chemutai, Priscilla Chelangat
UGANDAN MARATHONERS - RACE TO TOKYO OLYMPICS
Oct 20, 2019: Filex Chemonges - Toronto Marathon (3rd, 2:05:12)
Apr 7, 2019: Fred Musobo - Daegu Marathon (2nd, 2:06:56)
Apr 7, 2019: Solomon Mutai - Vienna Marathon (3rd, 2:08:25)
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Apr 28, 2019: Stephen Kiprotich - Hamburg Marathon (3rd, 2:08:31)
Jan 19, 2020: Jackson Kiprop - Mumbai Marathon (4th, 2:08:41)
Nov 17, 2020: Geoffrey Kusuro - Kobe Marathon (1st, 2:08:46)
Oct 27, 2019: Robert Chemonges - Rennes Marathon (1st, 2:09:03)