You can run away from the Police. Thats the philosophy that the Tanzanian
marathoners - all policemen - are bringing to bear on their race in the
Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on Sunday morning.
The Tanzanians have a formidable line-up - Francis Robert Naali,
Commonwealth marathon champion from Manchester 2002, Simon Marshani,
Commonwealth silver medallist 1998, and Geway Suja, who has run 2hr 14min 02sec
at altitude. Marshani is an Assistant Inspector, and Naali and Suja are
sergeants. All three work and run at the Police Training School in the town of
Moshi, which is at 2000 metres altitude in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro,
the highest mountain in Africa.
Their team manager, John Manyama says that Tanzania is playing catch-up with
the Kenyans and Ethiopians in the marathon stakes. "We have lacked
structure and organisation in the past, which wasn good to help young runners,
but we e starting to do like the Kenyans now. We have established two altitude
training camps, to reunite our best runners. One is in Moshi and the other is
in Arusha". The immediate outcome is that Tanzania has six men vying for
the three Olympic places in the team for Athens next year. Naali already has a
qualifying time, but he confidently expects to back that up with victory in
Singapore. "I want to win, and I expect to win," he said yesterday,
"I know the time will be slow, because of the humidity, but I think I can
break the course record (2.18.30)".
Naali and his colleagues, who also include former world junior cross country
champion Andrew Sambu will have an early opportunity to measure themselves
against their East African neighbours, because the Kenyans, as usual are out in
force. John Rotich, who has won marathons in Dortmund and Wachau, Austria leads
the Kenyan pack.