Kilt-wearing Ugandan vies to be king of road

HE was the King of the Castle in Auld Reekie yesterday, but will Ugandan Boniface Kiprop be the King of the Road in Sunday's Great Edinburgh Run?

The Commonwealth 10,000m gold medallist and Olympic fourth-placer turned tourist yesterday, visiting the Castle and proudly posing with bagpipe players after being fitted for a kilt in the Royal Mile.

"I wore one last year after the race and they said I was the Last King of Scotland because of the film about President Idi Amin. It's very well-known in Uganda," said the former world junior champion, now 22. "The race organisers also took me to a very nice place, Edinburgh Castle. That's a big thing for me, so I am very happy.

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"I like the people of Scotland. When I'm here, I feel at home and people treat me well. I've been second here twice (in 2005 and last year], so I'm praying to win Sunday's race.

"After this, I'm training for Hengelo (in Holland] and will try to run a good time there, around 26mins 40secs. My best is 26:38 when I was second to Kenenisa Bekele when he set the world record in Brussels (26:17.53 in August 2005].

"I'll run this race in Edinburgh, then Hengelo and then I'll train for the Olympic Games. I was fourth last time as a junior, so I want to bring back a medal this year.

"Winning the Commonwealth gold was my finest achievement but it was not easy for me. It was a tactical affair and I didn't think I was going to win when there was still a big group with five laps left. Back home in Uganda, people were very happy and I took tea with the president."

Kiprop's main opposition is expected to come from Kenyan Bernard Kipyego, Swiss marathoner Viktor Rothlin and Moroccan-born Frenchman El Hassan Lahssini.

England's Dan Robinson is also competing, barely three weeks after smashing his personal best at the London Marathon to qualify for Britain's Olympic team.

"I'm still in good shape," claimed the Commonwealth bronze medallist. "I had a week off with no running and then eased back into it. My legs have recovered but whether I can produce a decent time is another thing. I'm using this race as a starting point or stepping stone for the build-up to Beijing, so I'm not expecting to set the world alight."

Top Scot could be another gentleman with remarkable powers of recovery. Perth's Mike Carroll was an impressive winner of the recent Edinburgh Half Marathon and followed that with a 2:23:30 performance in London.

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In the absence of triple champion Jelena Prokopcuka from Latvia, the ladies event features Kenyan Rose Cheruiyot and Hungary's Aniko Kalovics but many eyes will be on Australia's former world cross-country champion Benita Johnson. The ex-hockey player turns 29 next Tuesday and hopes to bag herself an early birthday present.

"I really like Edinburgh and the people here, so it's nice to be back," she said on her arrival from Ireland last night.

"I've never run on the roads here, but I've done cross-country several times, including this year's World Championships (11th place plus team bronze]. I'd love to win on Sunday, but the competition is tough."

The 10km race starts and finishes in the Meadows, taking in city centre landmarks such as the Mound, Castle, Scott Monument, Holyrood Palace and Scottish Parliament.

Late entries can still be made at "Run 4 It" in Lothian Road from 10am to 6pm on Saturday.