The Japan-based Kenyan says this weekend marks the start of his journey toward the Tokyo 2020 Olympic marathon

Less than three months after his world-leading personal best of 59:10 to win the RAK Half Marathon, Bedan Karoki is looking forward to finding out what he can achieve over double the distance when he makes his marathon debut in London on Sunday.

The 26-year-old has raced seven half-marathons since his 59:58 debut in 2014, achieving sub-60-minute performances in six of them and claiming victory in five of them.

Now he believes the time is right to step up to 26.2 miles.

“I have been doing some road races and I have been performing well so I decided to come here to see the way I can perform in the marathon,” said the Kenyan, who claimed silver at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff last year, beating Britain’s Mo Farah into bronze.

“I know on this course people have been running good times so that encouraged me to come here.”

A 10,000m finalist at the last four global championships, Karoki also secured silver at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2015 and would like to impress the selectors with his Virgin Money London Marathon performance this weekend ahead of the IAAF World Championships in London this summer.

“Because it is my first marathon, I can’t say I’m going to run a specific time,” he told AW. “For me, if I run 2:04, 2:05 or 2:06, I will be very happy for my first attempt.

“If I perform well here I know I will be selected to represent my country at the World Championships,” he added. “So I will work hard to see whether I will be selected.”

Coached by 2:07 marathoner Tomoaki Kunichika, who won the 2003 Fukuoka Marathon, Karoki is also advised by 1986 London Marathon winner Toshihiko Seko.

The Kenyan studied in Japan and currently lives in Tokyo. While his marathon debut and this year’s World Championships are his immediate focus, Karoki says this weekend’s race marks the start of his journey toward the marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“I think this will be a good start for me before the Tokyo Olympics,” he said. “I can say this is the start of my preparations for 2020.”

» A preview to Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon can be found here, while a more in-depth look ahead to the action can be found in the April 20 edition of AW magazine, which is available in shops or to read digitally here