Kenyans targeting more Edinburgh Marathon glory

Eddah Jepkosgei returns to defend her title

Eddah Jepkosgei returns to defend her title

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A strong Kenyan contingent is expected to dominate proceedings once again in tomorrow’s Edinburgh Marathon as the event reaches its 15th year.

With several thousand competitors descending on the Capital for the full 26-mile race and the adjoining half-marathon, Eddah Jepkosgei is returning to defend the title she won last year. And compatriots Stanley Kiprotich Bett, Joel Kositany and 2014 runner-up Japhet Koech are likely to make it an all-African scrap for the men’s title with only Ukraine’s Ihor Russ – who was 48th at last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio – looking likely to threaten their dominance.

Kositany appears favourite with a leading personal best of 2:09:50. The last-minute addition to the field has a firm pedigree on British shores after winning the Belfast marathon three times in the past four years.

But Koech, in his fifth Edinburgh appearance, may be in line to finally take victory with his path eased by the late withdrawal of Ethiopia’s Afework Ayele Kibret, who was unable to secure a travel visa.

“We think it’s going to be a pretty competitive field,” said elite race director Freya Ross. “Kositany has come in late and he’s got pretty good times. But Russ has done very well over the past year and he’s probably going to be right up there.”

With the event starting in the city centre and then looping out through East Lothian and back to the finish in Musselburgh, the expected warm conditions could point to a repeat triumph for Jepkosgei, who took victory in 2:39:53 12 months ago. But veteran Scot Hayley Haining, who took second place in 2016, is also back with the university lecturer still competitive at the age of 45. The women’s elite also includes London 2012 Olympian Olga Dubovskaya, who is returning from the birth of her first child.

The marathon will start at 9.50am with the half-marathon kicking off at 8.30.

Meanwhile, Lynsey Sharp is set to face Olympic champion Caster Semenya tonight in a world-class 800 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene.

The Capital star, who pulled off the track during her first outing of the summer in Los Angeles last week, also meets Rio bronze medallist Margaret Wambui in her first major test in the build-up to this summer’s world championships in London.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh AC’s Chris O’Hare, who lowered his 1500m personal best on his 2017 debut in LA, goes in the mile. Fellow Scots Laura Muir and Andy Butchart are also in action.