Kenya’s world half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei has been added to the women’s elite field for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2018, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 21 October, which brings about the mouth-watering prospect of a thrilling head-to-head contest with three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba.
The pair have met twice before. Firstly, at last year’s Ras al Khaimah Hal Marathon when Jepkosgei finished third and the Ethiopian legend was fifth; secondly in May this year at the Manchester 10km in Great Britain when Dibaba (whose participation in the ADHM 2018 has been previously announced) got the upper hand with a convincing win – 31:08 to 31:57 – with the Kenyan runner in second place.
However, Jepkosgei will come to the ADHM 2018 in fine form buoyed by a half marathon win over a classy local field in a high-altitude race in her native Kenya last Sunday (7 October).
“The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is my first-ever trip to India and so I am very much looking forward to visiting and also competing against, once again, Tirunesh Dibaba as well as the rest of the field of accomplished and confident women,” said the 24-year-old Jepkosgei.
Jepkosgei grabbed international attention in an emphatic way on several occasions during 2017. She set a world half marathon best of 1:04:52 in Prague in April last year and improved that mark by one second to 1:04:51 in the Spanish city of Valencia 12 months ago. Sandwiched between these two record-breaking half marathon outings, Jepkosgei became the first woman to run under 30 minutes for 10km on the roads when she ran a world record of 29:43 on her return to the Czech capital Prague in September 2017.
This year has seen Jepkosgei compete in her first global championship and she returned to Valencia almost five months after her world record in the same city and placed second at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March.
Curiously, after her stunning successes of 2017 and despite running a series of fast times in the last nine months, Jepkosgei is still looking for her first international win of 2018 and that will provide her with extra motivation in Delhi.
The women’s course record has been standing since 2009 and belongs Kenya’s Mary Keitany at 1:06.54. However, with the calibre of women in this year’s race, many people will be watching the clock closely to see whether this long-standing mark will fall.
This year marks the 14th edition of the race which is now one of the world’s leading half marathons.
All the leading runners, both men and women, will have their sights on first prize cheques of US$27,000 with a total prize money purse (combined men and women) of US$280,000.
Unfortunately, organisers have had to announce the withdrawal from the men’s race of Eric Kiptanui. The Kenyan, who is the fastest half marathoner in the world this year, recently sustained a slight injury in training and is not back to full fitness. A similar situation has led to the withdrawal of Kenya’s Caroline Kipkirui from the women’s race.
Organisers for the IAAF