World half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei is confident she can still lower her personal best time over the 21-kilometre distance when she runs in Friday's famous Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking to Nation Sport before she left for the UAE on Tuesday, Jepkosgei said her training had been going on well and she is "looking forward to a good race."
BROKE THE WORLD RECORD
Jepkosgei broke the world record in Prague, Czech Republic, in April last year, running the distance in one hour, four minutes and 52 seconds before lowering the mark by a second in Valencia in an amazing season which she completed with a total of six world records.
In Prague, Jepkosgei shattered four records in total -- including 10km (30:05), 15km (45:37) and 20km (61:25) -- on her way to clocking the 1:04:52 world record for the half marathon, a time she improved to 1:04:51 in Valencia.
She also broke the 10km world record, again, at the Birell Prague Grand Prix in the Czech Republic, running 29:43 in September to become the first woman to run a sub 30-minute 10km road race.
"My training has gone on well. There is nothing much I have changed during my training and I'm looking forward to the race where I want to lower the record, even by a second," said Jepkosgei, a member of the Kenya Defence Forces' athletics team.
Jepkosgei, who has been training in Iten (Elgeyo-Marakwet County) and in Ngong (Kajiado County), noted that she is aware that the competition will be stiff.
"I am expecting a stiff competition but I will run in line with my training skills. I have done good training and I won't fear anyone," she added.
She will lead a stellar cast of Kenyans in Ras Al-Khaimah, including marathon world record holder Mary Keitany (with a half marathon personal best time of 65:13), Edith Chelimo (65:52), Fancy Chemutai (65:36), Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono (66:07) and the latest sensation on the roads Joan Chelimo (66:25).
Others are Honolulu Marathon champion Brigid Kosgey (66:35), Caroline Chepkirui (66:48), Lucy Cheruiyot (67:23) and Olympic 5,000 metres champion Vivian Cheruiyot (67:44).
Most of the athletes have been using the Ras Al-Khaimah race to build up their speed ahead of major spring marathons like London and Boston.
London Marathon champion Keitany said that she loves using the race to gauge her performance ahead of her major race in April.
"I will be using the race to gauge my performance ahead of the London Marathon in April.
"I know there will be stiff competition, especially from the record holder Jepkosgei, but I will do my best," said Keitany before flying out to the UAE.
In the men's category, Joram Lumbasi (58:48) will lead other Kenyans who include James Wangari (59:07), Bedan Karoki (59:10) and Josphat Tanui (59:22).Karoki, who is last year's winner, said he was eyeing to retain the title he won as one way of preparing for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships to be held in Valencia, Spain, on March 24.
"My training so far has been ongoing well and I hope for the best on Friday," said Karoki.
Focus will also be on Iten-based Lumbasi who is also the reigning champion of Family Bank Half Marathon.
He has also been named in Kenya's IAAF World Half Marathon Championships team.
Lumbasi says he is targeting a podium finish on Friday.
"My training has been good and I will be looking forward to a good race as part of my training ahead of the major one in March. I will be eyeing to be in the podium in the race," he said.