Geoffrey Mutai will fight for his title in New York, A view from Kenya, by Justin Lagat

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Geoffrey Mutai training group, photo by Justin Lagat
Geoffrey Mutai will fight for his title, by Justin Lagat

The world major marathon title for men and the $500,000 prize money that goes with it will be at stake at the New York City marathon. The man who many see as the one to determine who wins that title is none other than Geoffrey Mutai. If he wins here, his training mate, Dennis Kimetto will automatically take the WMM title and if he doesn't and Wilson Kipsang does, then Kipsang will win the title. Any other elite who wins here will also result in Dennis Kimetto being declared the winner.

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Mutai is confident that with the training he has done so far, he is ready for the race. He knows that he will be facing tough competition from other world's top marathon runners that will include Wilson Kipsang, Stephen Kiprotich and Stanley Biwot among others. He even had to cancel other races he would still have run recently in order to fully concentrate on training for New York. "Traveling a lot for races is even more exhausting than running in those races," he said, adding that such traveling usually affect his training plans as he would at times lose one week of training if he travelled for a race abroad.

"Yes it will be a tough race. That is why it is called a competition. Every major marathon is always expected to have strong competitors and everyone preparing to run one should be very prepared for that. You cannot expect to go there and run alone," he said regarding the strong elite field that will be in the race.

He will be aiming to run within 2:05 and hopefully get to smash the course record again, but says that it won't be an easy task since New York Marathon's course is not a fast one.

"I cannot compare New York's course to that of Boston, Berlin or London. New York is a hard course, especially on the last half of the course where it slopes upwards and one has to struggle before reaching the finish line," he said.

Cross-country running is a great way that Mutai has usually used to tune up his body to run well in major marathons. In fact, he believes that his participation at the world cross country championships in 2011 was the reason behind his stunning 2:03.02 in Boston Marathon that same year before proceeding to set New York's course record of 2:05.06.

"When world cross country championships used to be an annual event, many strong athletes would fight to get selected into the national team to represent the country. Participating in local and international meetings was so beneficial in sharpening my speed and endurance for the marathon. Now that the championships have been turned into a bi-annual event, many athletes have lost interest on it and the cross country competitions have not been as hard and challenging as before. Cross country running helps in building perseverance," Mutai said.

The world knows him as the athlete who mentored Dennis Kimetto, the current world record holder in marathon. But, at his camp in Kapng'etuny and in many other places here in Kenya where I have been to, I have also come across many athletes who attribute their success in running to Mutai's help and advice.  Besides seeing him as a role model and wanting to be like him, you can be sure that the interview could not end without him giving me some valuable advice too.

"The common mistake that most of the athletes make is over-training and exhausting their bodies. It is always good to pay attention to your body and know when to stop pushing hard in your training, especially when you feel that you are already in great shape," advised Mutai.

He likes to see marathon running as a game of fighting, where one should learn to fight to remain on top until the last minute. He himself still has a lot of fighting to do and many accomplishments to accomplish. He didn't let injuries and other setbacks that befell him some time in 2013 and in other past instances affect his running career. His focus is on the fights ahead; the world record that still stands to be broken again, WMM titles that need to be won, the Olympics and world medals too.

"I still have plans, a future and goals to achieve with my running," Mutai says.

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