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Eric Kiptanui in a past race. [Courtesy]

Eric Kiptanui will make 42km debut at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon tomorrow.

Kiptanui, who holds a half marathon personal best time of 58:42, was among Eliud Kipchoge’s 42 pacesetters at the historic Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria, last October.

The Iten-based runner is ranked sixth in the world in half marathon all-time records and he’s the only Kenyan in the men’s line up in Dubai.

The 29-year-old Kiptanui won Lisbon Half Marathon in a personal best time of 60:05. He will take on Ethiopia’s top stars in Solomon Deksisa and Seifu Tura. Kiptanui boasts of his 58:42 21km mark he set at the Berlin half marathon in 2018.

Deksisa has a personal best of 2:04.40 while Tura has a personal best of 2:04.44.

At 20, Deksisa won the 2014 San Diego half marathon in a personal best of 60:12before setting an impressive 2:06:22 on his 42km debut at the Rotterdam Marathon where he wound up second.

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He won Mumbai and Hamburg marathons in 2018.

Kiptanui who is the only debutant in the elite list of 16 men, will also face Andualem Shiferaw with a 2:06:00 PB, Aychew Dessie (2:06:23) and Birhanu Bekele (2:06:41), all from Ethiopia.

He finished ninth at the Airtel Delhi half marathon in October last year in 62:23. He remained focused and it paid dividends as he Kiptanui delivered a stunning performance on New Year’s eve in 2017, winning 10km San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid in 27:34 – a time bettered in the race by only two men; distance running icons Eliud Kipchoge and Eritrea’s five-time world half marathon champion Zersenay Tadese.

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In women’s category, absence of defending and World champion Ruth Chepngetich leaves Ethiopia women elite field comprising Worknesh Degefa, Deba Dejene, Alemu Megertu, Dera Dida and Guteni to battle for honours. Chepngetich clinched the 2019 title in a course record of 2:17:08.

Meanwhile four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah will begin his Tokyo Games preparations by going head-to-head with Kenenisa Bekele at the Big Half race in March, organisers said on Wednesday.

Farah, who has won the previous two editions of the half marathon event in London, faces a tough battle to keep his streak intact against Ethiopian Bekele – the second-fastest marathon runner of all-time.

After competing in marathon for the last two years, Farah has decided to return to the track in a bid to complete an Olympic hat-trick in 10,000m. He has not featured on the track since the 2017 world championship.

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