REIGNING Fukuoka Marathon champion Martin Mathathi is determined to battle the bigwigs to the finishing line in April London Marathon despite starting as an underdog.
With a personal best time of 2:07:16 which he posted recently while making his debut in full marathon in Fukuoka this year, Mathathi warned the so called favorites that they should brace up for tough battle. "I may not have the kind of fast times my rivals have but I can assure them that I have a surprise for them come April 13," he noted. In marathon, he said only current form counts and not past records. "You can come to a race with a PB of 2:04 but if you are not prepared, all that is useless."
Mathathi was speaking in Iten, where he has pitched camp since Tuesday ahead of the London Marathon in April. In Iten, he will brush shoulders with the likes of Britain Olympic 10,000m and 5,000m champion Mo Farah and world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffee, who are also training in the high altitude area. Farah will be making his full marathon debut in London in April while Mathathi will be venturing in his second full marathon after winning Fukuoka on debut last year. "I don't know much about the London Marathon course as this will be my second full marathon appearance. I have not run the world majors but my experience on the road is worth banking on," he said. Fresh from winning 68th Kagawa Marugame half marathon (60.11) last week in Japan, Mathathi believes he is on the right track as far as road running is concerned. The time he posted in Kagawa is the third-fastest time in the race's history and just 23 seconds short of the course record set by fellow Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (59:48 secs) in 2007.
"I went there to test my speed and apart from winning, the race helped me to gauge my preparedness. I know this kind of speed in 21km could easily translate into about 2:04 hours in full marathon and this is impressive," said Mathathi who is also the Great North Run 21-km course record holder with a time of 58.56.
During his training in Iten, the Japan-based Kenyan runner will focus on speed and building endurance. "I am here to build on my endurance and speed since it is very important. You know at the 35km mark of a marathon, endurance matters a lot and if you don't have it, too bad for you," he revealed.
He said he is already aware that London Marathon will not be a walk in the park as it has attracted the 'who's who' in the world of road running.
"I am praying to God to see me through my training. I will be here in Iten until I take my flight to London. I can only hope for the best," Mathathi who is also the former world 10,000m bronze medalist said.