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Can Tola top the podium at last?

There is no doubt about the destination of the men’s AbbottWMM Series XV Crown, but that will not stop the men’s race in New York City this weekend providing plenty of drama.
 
Kelvin Kiptum’s two wins cannot be matched by anyone lining up on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on Sunday morning, but as the strains of Frank Sinatra fill the air on Staten Island, it will be the signal for the assembled men to create their own piece of five-borough history.
 
Among them will be Tamirat Tola, the 2022 world champion. The Ethiopian has never stood on the top step of the podium at any of the six AbbottWMM races, with third place in London and Tokyo his best finishes to date.
 
Championship racing is where the 32-year-old has prospered, with his gold in Oregon topping a bronze at the 2016 Olympics in the 10,000m and silver in the London world championships a year later.
 
He did not finish in Budapest at the World Championships this year, but hit back with a winning run over 13.1 miles at the Great North Run in September.
 
His countryman Shura Kitata won in London in 2020 and has finished second in New York twice, most recently in last year’s race when he lost out to Evans Chebet.
 
The champion is not returning to defend his crown, and neither is two-time winner Geoffrey Kamworor, which means Albert Korir lines up as the only man to have taken the tape in Central Park.
 
Abdi Nageeye was third in New York last year, and he comes in off the back of a DNF in Budapest, although he was on the podium in Rotterdam in the spring.
 
Behind Nageeye on the list as far as fastest times goes is Canada’s Cameron Levins. The 34-year-old enjoyed a stellar day at the Tokyo Marathon in March, leading deep into the race until eventually settling for fifth place in a time of 2:05:36, a new North American record.
 
There are reasons for each of these contenders to believe that Sunday could be their moment and, with the likes of Chebet and Kamworor absent, opportunity is knocking for one of them to etch themselves into New York City folklore.

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