All smiles - Deriba Merga wins in Boston (© Getty Images)
Course records are expected to be under threat at the 35th edition of the 2013 Vodafone Istanbul Eurasia Marathon on 17 November, after organisers released their elite field for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Wednesday (6).
Ethiopia’s former Boston Marathon winner Deriba Merga, who can boast of a personal best of 2:06:38 is the fastest man in the men’s field but the man possibly to watch out for could be France’s 2013 Daegu Marathon champion Abraham Kiprotich, who won in Korea earlier this year in a personal best of 2:08:33 and is the fastest European runner this year.
Morocco’s Abdellah Falil, with a best of 2:08:18 from when he won in Daegu two years ago, and Ethiopia’s Siraj Gena, a former winner of the Beijing and Rome Marathons who has a best of 2:08:31, should also be in contention for the USD $50,000 first prize.
The men’s course record in Istanbul stands at 2:10:39, set by Kenya’s Vincent Kiplagat in 2010.
The women’s race could be arguably even more competitive.
Ukraine’s national record holder Olena Shurhno, who clocked 2:23:32 when finishing third in berlin last year, returns to the fray and will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of failing to finish the Tokyo Marathon in February, her last outing over any distance.
Ethiopia’s former Xiamen International Marathon and Seoul Marathon winner Amane Gobena will be hoping to go one better than last year, when she finished second in Istanbul behind her compatriot Koren Jelela Yal.
Gobena has since improved her personal best to 2:23:50 when finishing third in Dubai in January this year.
Kenya’s 2012 Dusseldorf Marathon winner Agnes Barsosio is not far behind Shurhno and Gobena on time, having also improved her best to 2:24:03 when finishing third at the Daegu Marathon in April.
The race is also incorporates the Turkish national championship and Turkey’s 2008 double Olympic Games silver medallist and former 5000m World record holder Elvan Abeylegesse will finally make her Marathon debut.
Abeylegesse will face her compatriot and national record holder Sultan Haydar in the battle for domestic honours.
Haydar ran 2:25:09 when finishing second in Paris last year but, like Shurhno, has a point to prove after failing to finish in her last outing over the classic distance, in this case at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow three months ago.
Also in the women’s field is Ethiopia’s former IAAF World Youth and Junior Championships medallist Bizunesh Urgesa, who won the Istanbul Marathon in 2009.
The women’s course record in Istanbul stands at 2:27:25, and was run by Ethiopia’s Ashu Kasim Rabo also in 2010.
The Marathon is one of just four races on the day in Istanbul. There are also races over 15km, 10km and a fun run with organisers expecting more than 20,000 runners to take to the streets of Istanbul across all the events.
Phil Minshull and organisers for the IAAF