NEW YORK — Geoffrey Mutai sees the scorching fast times put up by his training partners and figures he should be able to match them.
They’re doing the same workouts, so he’s confident he can put up the same results. Mutai already owns the course record at the New York City Marathon, where he will defend his title today.
His goal is to go even faster.
The Kenyan won in New York two years ago in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds. That was the last time the NYC Marathon was held, and much has changed since that day Mutai describes as “perfect.”
The 2012 race was called off because of the destruction of Superstorm Sandy. Then in April, two bombs exploded near the finish line in Boston, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
The increased security Sunday will be most evident near the finish line in Central Park. There will be barricades around the park limiting entry points, bag checks and bomb-sniffing dogs.
More than 47,000 runners are expected at the start of the 43rd running of the NYC MarathonFive races within the race to watch:
• Mutai has run the fastest marathon in history, 2:03:02 in Boston in 2011. It didn’t count as a world record because the course is too straight and downhill. The official world record was lowered in September to 2:03:23 in Berlin by Wilson Kipsang. Two weeks later, Kimetto nearly broke it again when he won Chicago in 2:03:45.
• Stephen Kiprotich’s personal best time is 2:07:20, slow by today’s standards. But he keeps proving he knows how to race. The Ugandan was the surprise gold medalist as the 2012 London Olympics, then won a world championship in August. Kiprotich and Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, the reigning London Marathon champ, are also competing for the World Marathon Majors title, a $500,000 bonus.
• A year ago, Meb Keflezighi planned to run the 2012 NYC Marathon and the 2013 races in Boston and New York, and then retire. He jokes he should qualify such pronouncements with “Subject to change.”
Now the 38-year-old Keflezighi is flirting with the idea of competing through the 2016 Olympics.
“Can I squeeze a little more out of it?” he said. “Otherwise, I feel content where my career has been.”
• Kenyans Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo train together and the two are competing for a second prize: the World Marathon Majors title. If either wins in New York, she will earn the $500,000 bonus. Kiplagat is the two-time defending world champion, and Jeptoo won the London Marathon this year. Kiplagat, who won in New York in 2010, is a force in championship-style races.
• Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba grew up together in Ethiopia. Deba now lives in the Bronx, but they were reunited at the last NYC Marathon, in 2011. Dado won and Deba finished second in breakthrough performances for both. Now Dado returns as the defending women’s champion, and Deba is trying to win in her new hometown.