(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK -- Whenever Kenya's Stanley Biwott travels to the United States, he knows he is in for something special. Such is the case for the 26-year-old this weekend, as he tries to become the sixth Kenyan in 10 years to win the ING New York City Marathon, run through the five boroughs on Sunday.
"I like [the United States] because I have fans, and I enjoy it," Biwott told Race Results Weekly. "It's very nice."
Biwott comes into Sunday's marathon undefeated in five races this year, which include three wins in the United States. Over the summer, Biwott took first at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race and TD Beach to Beacon 10K, then returned in September to top the podium at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, timing 1:00:03.
"It's the people. The United States, when we come, they are very nice," Biwott said, speaking in a soft voice. "And they cheer very loud, the fans."
Even if this week's trip across the Atlantic Ocean took a little bit longer due to Hurricane Sandy, Biwott's smile doesn't show any sign of worry of stress. Flying from Nairobi, Kenya, to London, then on to Boston, Biwott finally arrived in New York City by car, riding with four other Kenyan athletes: Wilson Kipsang, Sharon Cherop, Edna Kiplagat and Moses Mosop.
So what is Biwott's secret to success in the States?
"There is no secret, only to train," he said with a laugh.
Coached by Claudio Berardelli as part of a camp overseen by Dr. Gabriele Rosa, Biwott has done what he thinks it takes to win Sunday's race. Rosa has produced nine NYC Marathon winners, and Biwott seeks to become the 10th.
"He has been training me very well, focusing on the New York Marathon," said Biwott, who frequently runs with Dickson Chumba, winner of the De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven last month. "He has prepared me to train."
Seeing Chumba win in the Netherlands helped assure Biwott of his fitness level.
"It has given us confidence and morale that we are doing well," he said. Biwott also touched upon how winning this year has helped him mentally prepare, reminding him what he must do if he wants to be competitive come race day. "Winning has given me moral and hope, and keeping me training hard everyday so I can keep my position."
Will the combination of training and confidence help Biwott take home the $130,000 first place prize Sunday?
"That is my prayer," he says, again a smile arching across his face. "I don't know, everybody can win. We have confidence in our training and focus."