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Mexicans Aim at Kenyans in Marathon

April 17, 1998

BOSTON (AP) _ A blast of rain and a Mexican roster led by Dionicio Ceron and German Silva could block Kenya’s quest for an eighth consecutive Boston Marathon victory.

Even without 1997 winner Lameck Aguta, who will not defend his title because he is recuperating from an ambush beating, the Kenyans are the favorites to take the 102nd Boston Marathon. Rain is expected over the weekend and could last into Monday’s race.

``You have to learn to run in all conditions,″ said Kenyan Peter Ndirangu, who has never run in Boston but finished third at Chicago last year in his Marathon debut. ``Even if it is raining, you are ready to fight.″

That leaves the Mexicans. They have never won at Boston, though they had two runners in the top five in 1997 to dent the Kenyan stranglehold. Kenya has won seven times in a row and swept the top five in ’96.

Ceron finished third last year and Silva was right behind _ the only two non-Kenyans in the top seven men’s finishers. Silva thinks that if the Mexicans work as a team as the Kenyans do, they can do even better this year.

``The Kenyans, they run together. It’s psychological,″ Silva said Friday. ``If other racers look around and there’s five Kenyans, then maybe you think you are at a disadvantage. But if you run around your own friends, it gives you confidence.″

Among the Kenyans in contention are two former Boston winners, three-time champion Cosmas Ndeti and 1996 winner Moses Tanui; 1997 Boston runner-up Joseph Kamau and ’97 New York winner John Kagwe. Joseph Kimani, last year’s top road racer, is making his marathon debut and Ndirangu and Philip Taurus are debuting in Boston.

After finishing 25 seconds behind Aguta last year, Ceron thinks he found the problem with his performance: He trained only seven weeks, spending much of his time at the office of his clothing factory trying to earn enough to finance his workouts.

``For a Mexican, it’s simple,″ he said. ``We don’t have support. We need (to do) everything for ourself. We do not have the support of the federation. When you have something to do, do it. Because nobody will do anything for you when you finish your race or your career.″

This year, though, Ceron has been running full time for the past three months, leaving his factory to his wife and a business partner. He still goes to the office once a month.

``It’s a big difference for me when I can train all the time,″ he said. ``I am a serious runner again.″

Ceron has been outspoken in his complaints about the lack of support from the Mexican running federation. Silva, a two-time New York Marathon winner, has been able to finance his efforts with prize money and endorsement fees.

``If not, I do not have the money to keep training,″ he said. ``You can’t work. You can’t do two things really good. Either you are a marathon runner or you are something else.″

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