Kenya’s Bedan Karoki will defend his title at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on 17 May, the IAAF Silver Label Road Race organisers announced on Tuesday (28).
The world cross-country silver medallist is undefeated at the distance, having had three outings over 13.1 miles, all of them last year. He can boast of a best of 59:23 in his most recent half marathon, which was in Philadelphia last September.
Prior to Philadelphia, his wins in 2014 came in Lisbon and then Gifu, setting the course record at the latter race when he crossed the line in 1:00:02.
His main competition in the defence of his title in the Japanese city could come from James Rungaru, who won the Nice Half Marathon on Sunday in a personal best of 1:00:12.
Ethiopia’s 2008 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede will have a rare outing at the distance, his last half marathon coming three years ago, while Tanzania’s Ismail Juma, ninth at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, might be set to make a substantial revision of his half marathon best of 1:02:42.
Kenya’s Paskalia Kipkoech, who ran 1:07:17 in 2012, is the fastest in the women’s field although she didn’t race last year. The second fastest is Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa, who ran 1:07:33 in 2013, but she already has two marathons under her belt for the year.
Also in the field is Bahrain’s Asian Games marathon champion Eunice Jepkirui, who recorded a best of 1:08:31 last year and showed good form in winning the Nagoya Marathon last month.
Ethiopia's Mestawet Tufa set the women's course record of 1:10:03 in 2013.
Ken Nakamura and organisers for the IAAF
Leading runners (with PBs)
Bedan Karoki (KEN) 59:23
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 59:35
Martin Mathathi (KEN) 58:56
James Rungaru (KEN) 1:00:12
Jacob Wanjuki (KEN) 1:00:32
Cyrus Njui (KEN) 1:01:03
Josphat Boit (USA) 1:01:33
Shadrack Biwott (USA) 1:01:25
Kenji Yamamoto (JPN) 1:01:47
Kenta Matsumoto (JPN 1:01:55
Patrick Muendo Mwaka (KEN) 1:01:56
Yusei Nakao (JPN) 1:02:00
Yoshihiro Yamamoto (JPN) 1:02:03
Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 1:02:18
Dishon Karukuwa Maina (KEN) 1:02:20
Ismail Juma (TAN) 1:02:42
Ben St Lawrence (AUS) 1:02:51
Paskalia Kipkoech (KEN) 1:07:17
Atsede Baysa (ETH) 1:07:33
Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (BRN) 1:08:31
Rene Kalmer (RSA) 1:10:13
Brianne Nelson (USA) 1:10:16
Marta Tigabea (ETH) 1:10:32
Hiroko Shoi (JPN) 1:10:48
Azusa Nojiri (JPN) 1:10:53