2014 Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon (organisers) © Copyright
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Course records under threat at Karlovy Vary Half Marathon

With seven men having run faster than 61 minutes and a strong women’s field, the course records at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, could be under threat on Saturday (23).

The current men’s course record of 1:01:21 was set 12 months ago by Ethiopia’s Teshome Mekonen.

“But it’s expected that (this year) the men’s category will be dominated by Kenyan runners. The two biggest favourites are Nicholas Kipkemboi and Edwin Kibet Kiptoo,” said elite athlete coordinator Jana Moberly.

Kipkemboi is familiar with Czech races, and ran his best time of 1:00:11 when finishing fourth at last year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. But Kibet Kiptoo (not to be confused with the Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo who is also a good half-marathon runner) will be racing in the country for the first time.

The latter has been running in great form this year and his personal best of 1:00:10 is almost exactly the same as his compatriot and hails from the RAK Half Marathon in February.

“The elite start pack is of a high calibre, and on top of this, for the first time ever the race will be streamed live on Seznam.cz,” added president of the organising committee, Carlo Capalbo.

Ethiopian women expected to triumph

Breaking the stream of African winners in European road races, the top spot on the podium in last year’s race went to the French runner Christelle Daunay, who ran a course record of 1:09:17 and then proceeded to win the European marathon title later in the summer.

This year, though, the main favourites are the Ethiopian pair of Tsehay Desalegn, who has a half marathon personal best of 1:09:04 and who finished ninth at last year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, and Mulu Seboka.

Seboka’s half marathon best stands at a relatively modest 1:13:20 but she has won big city marathons in Dubai, Daegu and Toronto, all faster than 2:26:00. Just a few months ago, the 31-year-old lowered her marathon best to 2:21:56 when finishing sixth in Dubai.

A number of good European runners will also be taking part, including Ukrainian pair Olha Kotovska and Olena Burkovska and Belarusian talent Volha Mazuronok.

Ireland’s two-time European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton will also be on the start line. She will be racing this distance for the first time although she took part in last year’s European Championships marathon.

Queen among the Czech women runners in Karlovy Vary for the past two years has been 2012 Olympic marathon competitor Ivana Sekyrova and she will be competing against regular rival Petra Kaminkova to be the leading domestic competitor.

Organisers for the IAAF