“This is a great country. I like to come here. The people are warm and motivate you to do well. I have seen their impact on the runners at other big races here. I will be running here for the first time and hopefully will get a lot of support.”
Bekele, now 35, also took the opportunity to confirm that he has no plans to retire in the next year or so.
He still has his sights set on an Olympic medal in the marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to add to the three Olympic gold medals on the track he already has in his collection.
“That is the one [medal] missing in my cabinet,” he reflected.
If Bekele is successful in Tokyo and wins over the classic distance, he would become the oldest Olympic marathon gold medallist, an honour currently held by Portugal’s Carlos Lopes who was 37 when he won in 1984.
Heading the TSK25K women’s field, after the recent withdrawal of former world half marathon record holder Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat, will be two fellow Kenyans Helah Kiprop and Valentine Kipketer.
The full elite field for both the men‘s and women‘s races can be found on the TSK25K website here: http://tsk25.procamrunning.in/about-event/2017-elite-athletes