The sixth edition of the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon on Saturday June 20 will feature the latest episode in the ongoing duel between training partners Wilson Kipsang and Geoffrey Ronoh, after organisers of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race announced several of their leading runners on Monday (18).
A year ago, Kipsang was the world record holder in the marathon and Ronoh a little known member of Kipsang’s training group in Kenya but that impression changed dramatically in the course of just over one hour as Ronoh beat Kipsang by eight seconds to win the 2014 Olomouc title in 1:00:17.
It was Ronoh’s debut at the distance and only his second major race outside of Kenya.
The duo, who remain training partners, will renew their rivalry and both have shown the kind of form in 2015 which suggests another thrilling contest is in prospect.
Kipsang’s compatriot and training partner Dennis Kimetto broke his world record in Berlin last September but he remains a formidable and highly consistent competitor at any distance, as shown by his second place in 2:04:47 in the London Marathon in late April.
He is confident that regular strength sessions in the gym and track sessions have maintained his ability to be a contender at the half marathon.
The presence Ronoh alongside Kipsang makes the prospect of improving men’s course record highly feasible, a mark that Ronoh set in 2014.
Ronoh is confident his current training will bring rewards. “I’ve improved in training, meeting new targets for speed work and long runs, compared to a year ago,” he said recently.
Ronoh soon built upon his success in Olomouc a year ago, bringing his best for the half marathon distance down to 59:45 with victory at Klagenfurt in Austria two weeks before making a triumphant return to Prague roads and winning the 10km race in the Birell Prague Grand Prix in September.
Prospects are also exciting for the women’s race in Olomouc in which the former half marathon world record holder Mary Keitany makes her debut on Czech soil.
The Kenyan has returned strongly from maternity leave, winning the highly competitive Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February in 1:06:02, the fourth fastest performance in history and only 12 seconds slower than her former world record mark in 2011.
She continued her form with second place in the London Marathon on April 26. This form should put the Olomouc course record of 1:08:53, set last year by the two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, under pressure.
Organisers for the IAAF