Daniel Kibet wins the 2019 Istanbul Marathon (© Spor Istanbul)
Kenya’s Daniel Kibet seeks a second victory when he returns to the N Kolay Istanbul Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Label road race, on Sunday (7).
The 25-year-old, who was inspired by former world record-holder Paul Tergat, produced a surprise two years ago when he won the race despite starting as a pacemaker, improving the course record to 2:09:44.
He may well have to break the record again to repeat his victory. With a dozen runners on the start line featuring sub-2:10 PBs, organisers hope that the event can regain the Turkish all-comers’ record it lost to Izmir in April, when Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Getachew ran 2:09:35.
“I am happy to be back in Istanbul and my aim is to regain my title,” said Kibet, who set his PB of 2:06:49 when finishing fifth at the Seville Marathon in 2019.
“I am ready for a faster time than in 2019, but my main focus will be on victory. The question always is: will the favourites in the first group follow the pace of the pacemakers or will they sit back? You will not want to be the only athlete to go with the pacers.”
Kibet first raced the Istanbul Marathon in 2018. “I was in really good shape, but got a hamstring problem after 32 kilometres, which forced me to drop out,” he explained.
“Knowing the course in Istanbul is an advantage. It is fast, but some parts are difficult, especially the last three kilometres with some uphill sections.”
Leading the entry lists with their respective personal bests of 2:05:25 and 2:21:59 are Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku and Mamitu Daska.
Joining Kibet and Worku among the men’s race entries are Ethiopia's Yitayal Atnafu Zerihun, the 2019 runner-up who has a best of 2:06:21, plus 2:06:25 runner Chele Dechasa and Abayneh Ayele, who has run 2:06:45 and finished fourth at the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.
Kenya’s defending champion Bernard Sang, who ran his PB of 2:11:49 to win in Istanbul last year, also returns.
The women’s race will feature eight runners who have personal bests under 2:28. The former Dubai and two-time Frankfurt Marathon champion Daska, who was third in the 2017 New York City Marathon, is the fastest on paper with her PB set in 2011.
She will line up alongside Kenya’s Jackline Chepngeno, who has shown some promising recent form with a half marathon PB of 1:09:07 set when finishing second in Paris in September, while her marathon best of 2:24:38 was run in 2018.
They will be joined by two other sub-2:26 athletes in her fellow Kenyans Janet Rono and Sheila Jerotich, the 2018 Commonwealth Games marathon fourth place finisher.
Organisers for World Athletics