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Strong field expected for T&T marathon
A new female champion will be crowned when the 32nd edition of the T&T International Marathon runs off on January 26 at 5 am at Freeport, as last year’s winner Nigerian-born American Mary Akor was banned last month by the US Anti-Doping Agency for failing a drug test. Akor, 37, who also won the UWI half marathon in October last year, is banned for two years after testing positive for Clenbuterol. As a result, Kenyan Leah Kigen, who competed last year, will be the favourite among the women. Other than top locals, athletes are expected from USA, Jamaica, Canada, Japan, Ethiopia and Brazil.
Among the men, veteran local runner Curtis Cox will try to upset last year’s winner Juan Carlos Cardona Rios of Colombia and top contendor Phillip Lagat of Kenya. Competitors have the option to begin the race at 3.30 am, to reduce the time running in the sun. At the lauch of the event yesterday at the Normandie Hotel, St Anns, race director Francis Williams-Smith, said that getting rid of drugs in sports is difficult. He stated: “As you know in the athletic fraternity and all sporting disciplines, the presence of drugs in performance-enhancing supplements is a big challenge.”
Chairperson of the T&T Marathon Committee, Diane Henderson, said because of the Mary Akor situation, efforts are being made to ensure fair competition. She said: “Out of the incident with Mary Akor, we decided to push and introduce in 2014 anti-doping, we are happy to say we have the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)-trained personnel Andre Collins, who is going to do this for us.” The top finishers and two random athletes will be tested on race day by Collins and his staff.
The half marathon will also be held on January 26, starting at 5.45 am. The half marathon will cover the second half of the marathon course, starting near to Walker Park, Caroni. Both the marathon and half marathon will finish at White Hall, around the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS). Petite T&T runner Tonya Nero, is one of the favourites in the shorter version. The weekend’s activities will commence on January 25 with a schools relay at 3 pm around the QPS, followed by a 5k at 4 pm at the same venue. Both events will end at White Hall. Registration for all races is available at www.ttmarathon.com or at Kenny’s Sports Centres (Chacon Street, Port of Spain, San Fernando and Long Circular Mall). The deadline for registration is January 22.