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L.A. Marathon champion Erick Mose has eyes on a reprise

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Marathoner Erick Mose of Kenya spent most of the last five years living and training in Toluca, Mexico.

The near 9,000-foot altitude and proximity to races in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Central and South America have made the region a popular training destination for many Kenyan runners.

Last March, Mose traveled from Mexico to Los Angeles to run the ASICS LA Marathon for the first time. He won and collected $25,000 — the biggest check of his career.

On Sunday, the 27-year-old Mose will try to become the third male runner to repeat as L.A. Marathon champion in consecutive years.

"I'm expecting good results," Mose said this week in a telephone interview.

The 26.2-mile "Stadium to the Sea" course once again will take runners from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica.

Tracey Russell, chief executive of the marathon, said the event has sold out for the second year in a row. More than 25,000 participants are expected.

Prize money for men's and women's winners is again $25,000. The first man or woman to cross the finish line also will win a $50,000 challenge bonus.

Last year, women started 18 minutes 35 seconds ahead of the men. Aleksandra Duliba of Belarus won the women's race and also collected the challenge bonus by finishing 2:11 ahead of Mose, who crossed the finish line in a personal-best 2:09:44.

"We didn't start with a good pace," Mose said of the elite men. "This year, if everything goes well, we need to push ourselves to see if we can catch the ladies."

The gender-challenge split time for Sunday's race will be announced Friday.

Mose had won the California International Marathon in Sacramento in 2011 and several marathons in Mexico before last year's L.A victory.

Mose said he used his L.A. winnings to help his family and to purchase "a good piece of land" in Nakuru, Kenya.

A victory Sunday in the 29th annual race, he said, would enable him to complete construction of a home.

But Mose, the second oldest of six siblings, will continue to train for now in Toluca, where he said the climate, if not the language, was similar to Kenya's.

"I try to speak the best Spanish I can," he said, laughing. "But it's not 100%"

Mose said that in Mexico he is able to maintain a diet similar to the one he enjoyed in Kenya.

"Rice and beans and everything is here for me," he said. "I buy food and prepare it in the Kenyan style…. I don't like so much spice."

Mose's victory in Los Angeles was a major step in his development. Shaving a few minutes from his time will create more opportunities.

"He's relatively young and clearly on an improving curve," said his agent, Derek Froude, who competed in the marathon for New Zealand in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the Barcelona Games in 1992. "I could see him running 2:06 or 2:07 for the marathon. If he does that, he will move substantially up in the Kenyan rankings and make a good living for himself.

"At that point he would be ready to contend in any marathon in the world. He wouldn't be the fastest, but he would be within a couple minutes, which means on any given day anything can happen."

Last year, Mose pulled away from Kenyan Julius Keter to win the L.A. Marathon. Keter is among the 16 elite men tentatively listed as participants in Sunday's race, including Americans Aaron Braun, Gabriel Proctor, Jesus Campos, Adam Roach and Stephan Shay.

Defending women's champion Duliba is not listed among the 10 elite women scheduled to compete, including Americans Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz and Lauren Kleppin.

If Mose repeats his victory, he will join Kenyans Steven Ndungu (2001 and 2002) and Wesley Korir (2009 and 2010) as men's champions who won consecutive titles.

"It will be tough, so I need to think how I can run the race," Mose said. "We hope everything will be OK on Sunday."

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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