Mutai to Defend 2011 NYC Marathon Title After 2012 Cancellation

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya will defend his 2011 title at this year’s New York City Marathon, which was canceled for the first time a year ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Mutai’s challengers will include reigning Olympic and World Championships winner Stephen Kiprotich and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir, both from Uganda.

Defending women’s NYC Marathon winner Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia will also be back for the Nov. 3 race, organizers said in a statement announcing the event’s international professional runners. Dado’s top competition will include two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, who won the New York City race in 2010.

Last year’s NYC Marathon was canceled two days before the race amid criticism that staging the event so soon after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the city on Oct. 29 would drain resources. About 47,000 participants had registered for the race, including about 20,000 from overseas, according to the New York City Road Runners, which organizes the event.

Mutai, 31, won the 26.2-mile (42.2 kilometer) NYC Marathon two years ago in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds, eclipsing the course record by 2 minutes, 37 seconds. That came seven months after he ran the fastest marathon in history in Boston, at 2:03:02.

“I am confident and looking forward to challenging myself with my own course record set in 2011,” said Mutai, the 2011-12 World Marathon Majors series champion. “I look forward to coming back to the city where I am welcomed by many people who make me feel at home.”

Other top men’s runners in the field include 2012 Paris Marathon winner Stanley Biwott and 2012 NYC Half-Marathon winner Peter Kirui, both of Kenya; two-time Olympian Jose Manuel Martinez of Spain; and NYC Half-Marathon runner-up Masato Imai of Japan. The women’s field includes 2012 Olympic Marathon silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya, 2005 and 2006 NYC Marathon champion Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia and 2011 NYC Marathon runner-up Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia.

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