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World-class runners to compete in Sunday’s Seoul Int’l Marathon

The 2012 Seoul International Marathon will bring together world-class athletes in the heart of the Korean capital this Sunday.

The International Association of Athletics Federations has recognized the Seoul race with its “Gold Label Road Race” designation, based on race organization, course timing and quality of runners, among other criteria, making it the only marathon in the country with the designation.

This year’s marathon will start at 8 a.m. at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul and finish at the Seoul Olympic Main Stadium in Jamsil in the southeastern part of the capital. Runners will vie for the $80,000 winner’s purse, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Wednesday.

Among a total of 183 professional athletes from both home and abroad who applied for the title are several world-class athletes such as James Kipsang Kwambai of Kenya who has a personal best of 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 27 seconds and the winner of last year’s JoongAng Seoul Marathon; Eliud Kiptanui of Kenya, whose best time is in the 2:05 range; and Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco who has also clocked in the 2:05 range and clinched victory in last year’s Seoul competition with a record of 2:09:11, the city government said.

The world record in the men’s marathon is 2:03:38 held by Patrick Makau of Kenya. He is not entered in the upcoming Seoul race.

South Korea’s best hope for the title this weekend is Jeong Jin-hyuk who leads the national men’s marathon team. The 22-year-old marathoner, who finished second in last year’s Seoul competition with his personal best of 2:09:28, will look to break the national record of 2:07:20, set by the retired runner Lee Bong-ju in 2000.

While some 20,000 individuals will also participate in the separate division of the competition, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon will run some part of the course and award winners, according to the city government. (Yonhap News)
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