On the eve of the RAK half marathon, mens marathon world record holder, Wilson Kipsang, was presented with the Association of International Marathons Distance Races (AIMS) World Record Award at the course's race village where the Kenyan branded UAE marathons as "some of the best in the world".
Speaking to Sport360°, 31 year-old Kipsang spoke in flattering terms about the marathon event in the region, saying: "The UAE is really very good as the few races that are organised here are some of the best in the world.
"Dubai runners always take the lead in the marathon. Despite there [being] only a few races here they are always very well organised and the [local] guys are always off to a good start and are getting better every year.
"They just have to work on their stamina," joked Kipsang.
Full of charm and always brandishing a broad, welcoming smile it was no surprise that Kipsang couldn't move for young Kenyan runners taking it in turns to get a picture with their idol in front of the RAK advertising boards.
Since rising to worldwide prominence in the marathon event, Kipsang has shot to stardom in his home country and he obviously relishes the role of being the athlete that the next generation looks up to, which is why he makes himself so approachable to his fellow runners. Kipsang explained that he uses the added celebrity that he has been afforded since breaking the world record in Berlin last year, to help motivate others as much as himself to ensure that he continues to improve as an athlete.
"I think that [the young athletes] really like my running and it’s great to meet everyone as they prepare for the competition tomorrow and [hopefully] it is great motivation. It’s very important [to have this relationship with young Kenyan runners] as it also helps me to perform better and to improve my racing," said Kipsang.
Kipsang will not be competing in tomorrow's event having competed in, and winning, the Granollers half marathon in Barcelona earlier this month but he will be on hand to run alongside the RAK runners as they set off from the Manar Mall start at Ras Al Khaimah tomorrow morning.
Despite Kipsang's absence the field is very strong for the 8th edition of the RAK half marathon with the world record holder's Kenyan compatriots Brendan Koech and Brendan Kipyego sure to be in the running for medals in the men's race while Priscah and Rita Jeptoo will have to fend off strong competition from Ethiopian Mare Dibaba and the rest of the field in the womens' event.
For more information on RAK 2014 and to find out how to catch the action in the flesh, click on the following link: http://www.sport360.com/event/running/17484/rak-half-marathon-2014.
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