Kirwa leads the quest for course record at Hannover marathon in German

NAIROBI, March 8 (Xinhua) — Gilbert Kirwa of Kenya and Germany’s race defending champion Fate Tola leads the field for the Hannover Marathon on April 8.

Kirwa, whose best time in marathon stands at 2:06:14, will be hoping for perfect weather as he targets the course record of 2:08:32.

“I was told it is a fast course, but when you look at the time set then you wonder why nobody has run faster. I believe I can be that change and run under two hours and six minutes. But that will depend on my fitness and other racers,” Kirwa said on Thursday in Nairobi.

Former winner Jacob Cheshari from Kenya and Henryk Szost of Poland will provide the main opposition.

Cheshari is keen to recapture the title but is aware of the sacrifice he has to make to weather the challenge from his compatriot.

Home favorite Fate Tola defends her women’s title against Yue Chao of China and Recho Kosgei of Kenya. Hendrik Pfeiffer and Anja Scherl head the entries for the German Half Marathon championships held separately within the same event.

Kirwa’s biggest career marathon wins came from Vienna and Frankfurt in 2009. First he took the Vienna City Marathon in May with 2:08:21 and then he clocked a strong personal best of 2:06:14 when winning in Frankfurt.

On the very flat course in Hannover, which was improved for this year’s race by taking out several corners, Kirwa will hope to get back to his best.

The 32 year-old Kenyan, who has run sub 2:08 times on five occasions, had two difficult years because of injuries.

“I am now fit again and focused on winning in Hannover. But everyone enters the race with sole purpose to win. I will let my legs do the talking, though it will be important to assess the level of competition in the initial stages before going out at full throttle,” he added.

Cheshari, who won the Hannover Marathon three years ago with 2:09:32, has a personal best of 2:07:46 which he ran in Frankfurt in 2013 when he finished fourth. There is also Poland’s Henryk Szost.

Former Ethiopian Fate Tola, who became a German citizen two years ago, will be the favorite in the women’s race but must watch out for China’s Yue Chao (2:29:26) and Kenya’s Recho Kosgei (2:30:09).