Yesterday, some of the participants in the 41st Amsterdam Marathon were welcomed at the top of the A’DAM Tower to enjoy the views. Bernard Kipyego, Sammy Kitwara, Mule Wasihun and Abera Kuma, all firm favourites and competing to best the course record of 2.05.36, were optimistic about their preparation and their chances. Koen Raymaekers and Khalid Choukoud were there too, and they are looking forward to the Dutch Marathon Championship with plenty of confidence. Priscah Jeptoo, favourite among the women, is hoping for a time under 2.23.00.
Bernard Kipyego, the winner in 2014 and 2015, is convinced he will win for the third time in a row. "If I manage to improve myself in Amsterdam, and that’s what I'm going for, I believe I can qualify for the World Championship in London." If he finishes first on Sunday, he will take over the unofficial title of "Mr. Amsterdam" from Wilson Chebet, winner in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and course record holder. However, Chebet will be at the start too this year and will try his utmost to regain the title.
Sammy Kitwara also speaks confidently about his participation and refuses to be put off by multiple winners Chebet and Kipyego: "I just take part as Sammy and will run my own race." He has a clear goal in mind: "My goal is to win the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, I want to write history."
Abera Kuma also refuses to look at the others. He will focus on himself and has been training very hard over the past few months. He responded to the question of whether victory will go to Ethiopia this year instead of to Kenya, as it has done over the past few years, with a smile: "You never know."
Wasihun Mule, 22 years old and the youngest at the table, has developed rapidly as a top athlete over the past year and is also one of the firm favourites.
Amongst the women, Priscah Jeptoo is the favourite. After a period of injuries, she was able to get back to pain-free training, and she hopes to run a time of under 2.23.00 in Amsterdam. She will be competing with athletes like Meseret Hailu, who is the current course record holder in Amsterdam.
Dutch Marathon Championship
On Sunday, Koen Raymaekers and Khalid Choukoud will be competing for the title of Dutch marathon champion. Choukoud: "I'm looking forward to Amsterdam with plenty of confidence. I really want to settle the score and it would be great if I became Dutch champion. I'm dreaming of improving my pr of 2.10.52. Because I'm mentally stronger and more motivated, I may be able to get close."
Raymaekers, who has won the Dutch marathon championship, is a little more conservative. "I have now been Dutch marathon champion twice, and a third title would be lovely, but first and foremost I just want to run a good marathon." Because, he explains, "the marathon remains unpredictable."
Among the women, Ruth van der Meijden is the favourite for the Dutch title.
The start of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon is on Sunday at 9:30 am in the Olympic Stadium. The race will be broadcast live in 138 countries. Broadcasters include Eurosport 2 , Ziggo Sport, NH, AT5 and a livestream on www.tcsamsterdammarathon.nl.