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Kenyans gang up on Adcocks

20th Athens Classic Marathon


The Athens Classic Marathon course is one of the toughest in the world, but the organisers have got just the man for the job. Kenneth Cheruyiot fell and broke his arm after just 10 kilometres in the Rotterdam marathon earlier this year. Despite the pain, and the fact that he had to hold his right arm up on his chest for the remaining 30 kilometres, Cheruyiot from Kenya finished second in 2.09.43.

Combined with a personal best 2.07.18 for another second place in Rotterdam in 2001, and victory there the previous year, Cheruyiot looks the ideal bet to beat the long-standing course record of 2.11.07, set by Britains Bill Adcocks in 1969. Added to which, the Kenyan has several training partners and a pacemaker, Ngadi Salacho from neighbouring Tanzania to help him. "This course is the toughest Ive ever seen," said Cheruyiot on Saturday morning. "If the course was flat, wed try for 62 minutes at halfway, but I think well try for 65 minutes. Well sit down tonight and discuss tactics, but we want to run as a group and improve the time, but the record has stood for a long time".

This is the 20th Athens Classic Marathon, but with the Olympics just two years away, the organisers with the help of sponsors Alpha Bank, one of Greeces biggest companies are building the event into a race worthy of the name. For this is the original marathon course, from the village of Marathon - where a small Athenian army beat a huge Persian invading force in 490BC - to the marble Panathenaikon Stadium, the venue for the inaugural modern Olympic Games in 1896.

The same course will be used in two years time. Cheruyiot is up to speed on marathon history as well. "Athens was the beginning for the marathon, it all started here in 1896, thats why they call it the marathon. I want to be back here in 2004".

Pat Butcher

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