Eric Kiptanui will be seeking to upset the odds and win the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday on his debut over the distance.
Last year, the 30-year-old won the Barcelona Half Marathon in 61:04, and was part of the pace setters during Eliud Kipchoge's iconic sub-two hour run in the Ineos 1:59 challenge in Vienna on October 12. He had also acted as a pacesetter in the London Marathon won by Kipchoge in April.
Kiptanui, who only became a full-time athlete in 2015 after he quit the Kenya Wildlife Service, says he's looking forward to doing well in his marathon debut. Ethiopian athletes have won the men's race in Dubai for the last eight years.
"I hope to run my own race, run a good time and generally have a good debut. I have never run a full marathon and I am really eager to get started. I am 30 now and I have to make changes in my career and life. I have set a good time in half marathon and I am convinced I can do so in the marathon as well. I plan to do this for the next 5-10 years and retire," Kiptanui told Nation Sport.
"I have prepared very well for this particular marathon and I believe in myself. I am feeling well and in shape and I trust God will guide my steps as I make my debut," he added.
Ethiopia's Getaneh Molla won the race last year on his debut in a course record time of 2:03:34 - a welcome relief for Kiptanui who is seeking to continue this tradition.
Kiptanui will however face stiff competition from Ethiopia's Solomon Deksisa who set his personal best of 2:04:40 when he finished third in the Amasterdam Marathon in 2018. He will be looking to add to the back-to-back city marathons wins he enjoyed in Hamburg and Mumbai in 2018.
Born and raised in Kaptel in Nandi County, Kiptanui says he regularly ran 28km each day to and from school. He always wanted to be an athlete and was inspired by the likes of 2007 World 1500m and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat and 2006 Word Cross Country silver medallist Isaac Songok.