2005_11_marathonlogo.jpgWith the the ING New York City Marathon only two days away, the city is swarming with runners from all over the world. Last night, Gothamist headed over to Niketown to talk to some of the elite runners competing in Sunday's race. It seemed that the runners weren't too worried about the forecasted 70° temperatures as everyone they are competing against will face the same conditions. Below are some highlights of our question and answer sections as well as some additional answers we got in the extended entry.

Abdi Abdirahman, 28, USA
Gothamist: You finished 14th in 2004, how do you feel you'll do this year?
Abdirahman: My goal is to win it. Hendrick Ramaala, who won it last year, he was 13th or 15th the year before. It doesn't matter how you fished last year, it's a new race, you have to run 26 miles. I was injured last year, but this year I'm 100% healthy and I'm ready to run.

Susan Chepkemei, 30, Kenya (2nd in 2004)
Gothamist: How do you think the NYC Marathon compares to other marathons?
Chepkemei: This is one of the most amazing marathons. Really, very nice. Everybody is yelling all the way, which increases your morale and gives you power all the way. It's fantastic.

Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, 27, Kenya
Gothamist: It's your first NYC Marathon, what do you expect from the course and the crowd?
Cheruiyot: It's a very great marathon and it's one of the best in the world and I hope to do great.

Martin Lel, 27, Kenya
Gothamist: Of all the marathons you've competed in, how would you compare them to NYC's?
Lel: The New York City Marathon is one of the big marathons where it's very competitive, so I usually prepare extra. I like the city, I like the people, but I like the competition also. It's very high-class.

Paul Tergat, 36, Kenya (World Record holder)
Gothamist: It's your first NYC Marathon, what do you expect from the course and the crowd?
Tergat: I definitely think that the people will make the race and the crowd will bring their support. Around 20 miles, the race becomes very difficult for everybody. That's the time when the crowd has to cheer them on and support them through the finish.

Meb Keflezighi, 30, USA (2nd in 2004)
Gothamist: What do you think of the crowds in New York?
Keflezighi: It's amazing. New York is where my marathon is. I hope I can win it, but coming in second is making distance running come back in the US. The crowds at 1st Avenue and in Central Park are amazing. You can't put it into words.

More from the runners in the extended entry.

Abdi Abdirahman
Gothamist: We read that you're a big basketball fan, what teams do you follow?
Abdirahman: Yeah, I follow the Houson Rockets. I used to love Hakeem Olajuwon he was my favorite players. I like Yao Ming now and I have a couple of friends that play. One of my good friends, Channing Frye, plays for the New York Knicks now. We went to school together at Arizona.
Gothamist: What about the 70° weather?
Abdirahman: I love it! I can't wait. I live in Tuscon, Arizona, and as long as it's not 70 with 90% humidity, it won't bother me at all.
Gothamist: Do you have a favorite part of the marathon route?
Abdirahman: I love 1st Avenue with all the people screaming. That's where the race happens, where 1st and 2nd place is decided.

Susan Chepkemei
Gothamist:Last year, you finished 2nd in the closest women's finish in NYC marathon history, what was that like?
Chepkemei: Well, it was exciting and I was happy with my results. I wasn't expecting to run like that. Iit was exciting running with Paula Radcliffe side-to-side in the last 100 meters.
Gothamist: How do you feel you'll do against Sunday's field?
Chepkemei: Well, I believe in myself and I hope that the weather will be good. I'm looking forward to doing my best.
Gothamist: Is there any part of the race in New York City that you like?
Chepkemei: That's hard to say, but I do look forward to the finish line.

Martin Lel
Gothamist: You won the London Marathon earlier this year and are coming off a leg injury, how do you feel for Sunday's race?
Lel: Although I have a little injury, I feel I'm well prepared for this race. Last year, I missed the NYC Marathon, but I'm going to try my best.
Gothamist: In 2003, you won the NYC Marathon. What was that experience like?
Lel: Well, it was a great experience. Every marathon is a challenge and it was tough. But now I'm ready to race whenever I'm in a marathon.

Meb Keflezighi
Gothamist: By most accounts, 2004 was a great year for you - an Olympic silver medal and 2nd place in the NYC Marathon. 2005 has been difficult with your injuries, how are you feeling going into Sunday's race?
Keflezighi: Thank God I'm kind of healthy now. I look forward to being competitive and doing well on Sunday. Yes, it's been a tough year, but things happen for a reason and hopefully something special happens on Sunday.
Gothamist: As one of the best US runners, do you feel additional pressure running in New York City?
Keflezighi: There is a pressure to win the New York City Marathon, especially after watching the hype last year. I run to win all races and I'm going to do the best that I can.
Gothamist: What was it like finishing 2nd in 2004? Were you disappointed or very happy with your finish?
Keflezighi: I was very delighted. I won the silver in Athens and then 70 days later I was 2nd. Many people didn't think I would pull it off, but thank God I did pull it off. I run to win, but sometimes 2nd place is also a winner.