E. Mutai set for Great North Run debut
Provided by IAAF
Newcastle, UK - Kenyan marathon stars Emmanuel Mutai and John Kelai have been announced as early contenders for the 2011 Bupa Great North Run title, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Mutai, winner of the Virgin London Marathon in April, and Kelai, who scored a runaway victory in the final stages of last year's Commonwealth Games, will both swap to the Half Marathon distance for the showcase event on 18 September.
The pair will be aiming to follow in the winning footsteps of past great Kenyan runners, including the legendary Paul Tergat, and former champions Mike Musyoki, Benson Masya, Moses Tanui, John Mutai and Martin Lel.
Following his silver medal at the 2009 World Championships, Mutai, 26, scored second place in the London and New York Marathons. He returned to the British capital in the spring of this year to win in a course record of 2:04:40, the world's fifth fastest ever time.
"Without a doubt it was the best performance of Mutai’s career - he kept his cool and destroyed his opponents in the closing stages," said Peter Riley, elite athletes manager of the Bupa Great North Run.
Riley added: "He completely obliterated the previous best time, set by the late Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru two years earlier, and he is clearly now very much a major player in the world of road running."
"Mutai has a personal half marathon best of 1:00:03, which indicates he can challenge the Bupa Great North Run course record of 59:05 achieved by Zersenay Tadese in 2005."
"I'm also expecting great things from Kelai, who showed his future potential with his Commonwealth victory. The Bupa Great North Run offers him the opportunity to move up a couple of levels, in what I predict will again be a great field."
In his first appearance, the world's greatest ever distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie, won last year's race in 59:33, while his fellow Ethiopian Berhane Adere took the women's title for a second time in a time of 1:08:49.
Organisers for the IAAF