Bedan Karoki on his way to winning the RAK Half Marathon (© Victah Sailer / organisers)
The confirmed elite fields for the RAK Half Marathon on Friday 9 February trump even the star-studded line-ups of one year ago.
Bedan Karoki is back to defend his title, having won last year in a lifetime best of 59:10. But with 15 men able to boast sub-60-minute bests – two more than last year – his task to win again will be harder than ever.
No fewer than 29 men have now broken the 60-minute barrier on the sweeping loops of the RAK circuit. Of the four men who achieved the feat last year, three of them will return to Ras al-Khaimah.
The versatile Augustine Choge, who clocked 59:26 to finish third last year in what was only his third half marathon, continues to seek experience before venturing to the full marathon.
Solomon Yego, who ran 58:44 on the downhill Rome-Ostia course in 2016, finished fourth in Ras al-Khaimah last year in 59:50, his fastest time on a record-eligible course. He too will return to the RAK Half.
Others in the field include Ethiopia’s Guye Adola, who last year clocked the fastest debut marathon in history with 2:03:46, and Kenyan 20-year-old Jorum Lumbasi Okombo, whose 58:48 clocking from Copenhagen last year made him the second-fastest in the world for the distance in 2017.
Others to watch include 2014 RAK Half Marathon winner and two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa, the Ethiopian having won his past four half marathons, and 21-year-old compatriot Jemal Yimer, who finished fifth in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships last year and will be making his half-marathon debut.
The women’s field, which boasts similar depth, will be announced next week.
The women’s race starts at 6:45am local time with the men’s race due to start 15 minutes later.
Organisers for the IAAF
Elite men's field
Jorum Lumbasi Okombo (KEN) 58:48
Guye Adola (ETH) 59:06
James Wangari (KEN) 59:07
Bedan Karoki (KEN) 59:10
Fikadu Haftu (ETH) 59:22
Josphat Tanui (KEN) 59:22
Albert Kangogo (KEN) 59:25
Augustine Choge (KEN) 59:26
Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 59:26
Vincent Rono (KEN) 59:27
Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 59:28
Lelisa Desisa (ETH) 59:30
Alex Kibet (KEN) 59:32
Geoffrey Yegon (KEN) 59:44
Solomon Yego (KEN) 59:50
Shadrack Kimining (KEN) 1:00:07
Ali Kaya (TUR) 1:00:16
Timothy Toroitich (UGA) 1:03:14
Jemal Yimer (ETH) debut