Athletics: Former Bahraini goes for Tiberias marathon hat-trick

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January 8, 2009 07:27
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A record 1,200 runners will take part in the 32nd Tiberias marathon on Thursday. Two-time defending champion Leonard Mucheru of Kenya will be looking for a third straight title, and will be hoping to beat his course record of 2:10.31 from last year and claim the $50,000 bonus. Two years ago, Muchero competed as a Bahraini national with the adopted name Mushir Salem Jawher. He was stripped of his adopted nationality by the government of Bahrain just days after it discovered he had competed in Israel. Runners from 20 different countries will try and dethrone Muchero. His main rivals are expected to be countrymen Simon Njoroge, who set a career best of 2:09.46 in 2008, Wilson Onsar (PB 2:06.00) and Samson Bungei (PB 2:10.52). Ethiopian Teshome Etana (PB 2:11.50) and Tanzania's Baha Phaustin (PB 2:10.08) will also be a threat to Muchero. Five Israelis are likely to challenge for the national championship. The 53-year-old Haile Satayin, who was forced to retire during last year's race, will be hoping for a better outcome this time around, with Asaf Bimro, Wodage Zvyda, Zohar Zmiro and Destau Swanh the other favorites for the title. In the women's race, 11-time-winner Nili Abramski is not competing for the first time in years, opening the door for Orna Blau and Veloris Mandelovitch.

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