Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese during the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria (© Getty Images)
With two weeks to go until the 2014 IAAF/AL-Bank World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, five-time winner Zersenay Tadese has revealed he will be vying for an unprecedented sixth individual gold medal.
Without doubt the most successful athlete in the history of the event, the Eritrean is the reigning champion. He also holds the championship record of 58:59, set in 2007 in Udine in a race that remains one of the greatest ever half marathons in terms of depth.
Tadese’s first victory came in 2006 when the event went through a slight change in format and name. Held in the Hungarian city of Debrecen, the races were slightly reduced to 20km and the name of the event changed to the IAAF World Road Running Championships.
Although the name remained in place for one more year, the distance moved back up to the half marathon in 2007 and one year later the name reverted back to the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
Tadese won two more gold medals in 2008 and 2009, but his streak came to an end in 2010 when he was surprisingly defeated by Kenya’s Wilson Kiprop.
He returned to winning ways in Kavarna two years ago though, standing on the top step of the podium once more at the World Half Marathon Championships.
Tadese will renew his rivalry with the 2010 victor in Copenhagen as Kiprop was recently announced as part of a strong Kenyan line-up for the event.
Although the event will be missing Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat, who last month broke the half marathon world record*with 1:05:12 in Barcelona, the women’s race will still feature a host of some of the world’s best athletes over the distance with strong teams from Kenya and Ethiopia.
For just the second time in the history of the championships, the 2014 edition is being held in the spring. This year’s contest will also be combined with a mass participation race. About 25,000 people from around the world will take to the streets right behind the elite fields as recreational runners are given a rare opportunity to be a part of a global championships race.
The course in the Danish capital is fast, flat and scenic. Starting in front of the Danish Parliament at Christiansborg Castle, the runners will go uptown to Frederiksberg, the steepest part of the course. After passing the Frederiksberg Town Hall they turn left on to Frederiksberg Avenue as they head back to the heart of Copenhagen. In the final two kilometres athletes will pass the Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen Town Square and the Danish National Museum before crossing the finish line in front of Christiansborg Castle.
*subject for the usual ratification procedures