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Kenyans Aiming for World Record at Chicago Marathon - 2001-10-05

Organizers of the Chicago Marathon say there could be two world records set Sunday in this year's running of the race. The men's and women's favorites this year are both from Kenya.

This is just the second marathon for Kenya's Paul Tergat. He is better-known as a former world record holder in the men's 10,000 meters. In the Sydney Olympics last year, he lost the 10,000 meter gold medal by just .09 of a second. Earlier this year, he finished a strong second in the London Marathon and says he is ready for a good race Sunday in Chicago.

"I do not have any pressure at all, unlike my first marathon in London. The pressure was so immense I could not even eat. I feel like I am more relaxed and feeling good," he said.

Tergat will not have to face three-time Chicago winner Khalid Khannouchi, who dropped out of a race in Canada earlier this year with an injury. Chicago Marathon Director Carey Pinkowski says it is tough to lose a crowd favorite like Khannouchi, but he thinks Tergat will be an exciting runner to watch. "He is probably one of the greatest runners of all time. Not just as a marathon runner, but from 1500 meters or the mile, all the way up to the marathon, he has been a dominant force all of his career. That athletic ability always equates well in the city of Chicago, on our course," he said.

On the women's side, Catherine Ndereba of Kenya will try to make it two Chicago wins in a row. Last year, she finished with the second-fastest time for women at Chicago. This year, she's being asked if she can win here, and beat the women's world record set just last Sunday in Berlin by Japan's Naoko Takahashi.

"It is not something that is ringing in my head. If it comes, that is it. I will run good for that," she said. " If it does not, I just wait for another year. It is not something to bother my mind."

The Chicago course is a flat route considered among the fastest in the world. This will also be the largest field to run Chicago 37,500 entries. Weather forecasters say Sunday morning will be partly cloudy with light winds and a temperature around 10 C.