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( In His Final Race, Meb Faces a Former World Record Holder and the Defending Champ

Posted by: Biniam Tekle

Date: Saturday, 04 November 2017

In His Final Race, Meb Faces a Former World Record Holder and the Defending Champ

The men’s professional field at the 2017 New York City Marathon is deep and difficult.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2017, 10:37 AM

While the biggest fans of American distance running will undoubtedly be tuning in to cheer Meb Keflezighi as he runs his final New York City Marathon before retirement, Meb's competitors on Sunday come armed with impressive credentials, ready to win.

Most eyes will be on Wilson Kipsang, 35, the former world record holder in the marathon at 2:03:23. He is a late addition to the race after he dropped out of the Berlin Marathon at the 30K mark in September. Up until that point in the race, Kipsang ran alongside fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, both gunning to set a world record (the current mark is 2:02:57, set by Dennis Kimetto in 2014). After that failed attempt, Kipsang entered New York.

Five men in the race have personal bests faster than 2:07 and nobody is sure how much—if anything—that partial race in Berlin took out of Kipsang. But chances are he wouldn’t have entered New York if he didn't feel recovered from that run. 

Look for the field to key off of Kipsang's moves. However, also racing the New York City Marathon is defending champion, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea, who last year at age 20 became the youngest man to ever win the race. He is the 2015 world champion at the distance and he placed sixth at the 2017 London Marathon. Also in the field is Lemi Berhanu, 23, from Ethiopia, the 2016 Boston Marathon champion who has a 2:04:33 personal record from the 2016 Dubai Marathon.

Two other international athletes could play heavily into the race: Geoffrey Kemworor, 24, of Kenya, and Lelisa Desisa, 27, from Ethiopia. Kemworor finished second in New York in 2015 and his fastest marathon came in 2012 in Berlin at 2:06:12. Desisa is a two-time Boston Marathon champion, and was also a runner-up in New York in 2014 and was third in 2015. 

The weather, the challenge of a hilly course, and the lack of pacesetters always make New York one of the more intriguing professional competitions of the year, leveling the field to any of the athletes who can make the most of the conditions on that day. The forecast this year calls for temperatures starting in the mid-50s, with showers and high humidity.

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