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Singapore Marathon: Flying Squad

The Tanzanians have a formidable line-up

2003-12-05

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.

Pat Butcher


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