Mourad Amdouni of France (© Getty Images)
The same trio who raced to the podium last year will be in the running at the 39th edition of the 20km de Paris, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday (7).
Last year Mourad Amdouni became the first French athlete to win the Paris 20km since Philippe Remond in 2001. The 29-year-old will attempt to retain his title although his form is unclear as he hasn’t run since last February. He then clocked an indoor 5000m PB of 13:11.18 in Birmingham, but was injured following that strong performance and missed the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Stephan Ogari will be attempting to move up from his second place showing last year. The 2015 champion was beaten by Amdouni just by one second (respectively 59:18 and 59:19). Nevertheless it’s attempting the impossible to assess his shape as the Kenyan hasn’t run yet in 2017.
Alfred Cherop rounded out the podium last year, seven seconds adrift of the winner. Actually, the 31 year-old Kenyan has collected numerous places of honour in this event, finishing third three times --most notably in 2012 when he set his 20 km PB of 58:20-- backed up by fourth and sixth place showings as well. He has a half marathon best of 1:01:21 set five years ago.
Cherop’s only race this season was the Annecy Marathon, where he wound up fourth in 2:13:33.
Rwanda’s Felicien Muhitira appears to be one of the favourite, if not the main one. The 22-year-old set a 10,000m personal best of 28:12.75 last April. He also won the challenging French Classic “Marvejols-Mende” in July before clocking a half marathon PB of 1:01:56 two weeks ago.
Daniele Meucci will definitely be a strong contender. The Italian will be back in the competition following his fifth place in the World Championships marathon, a distance over which he is the European champion. Meucci, who’ll compete here for the first time, clocked a PB of 59:03 over 20km en route to his half marathon season’s best of 1:02:17 in Praha last April and has a half marathon best of 1:01:06, a time set in New York in 2013.
Another Frenchman could play a role as Hassan Chahdi already shined in the French capital. He indeed clocked a personal best of 1:01:38 over 13.1 miles in Paris back in 2015. Since then Chadhi has moved up to the marathon and improved his personal best to 2:10:20 in Paris last April.
Not to be discounted either is Getnet Gedamu. The Ethiopian won the 20 km de Maroilles in 1:01:19 five months ago as well as the Auray Half Marathon in a personal best of 1:03:49 earlier September.
A thick French contingent will also include Timothée Bommier, who was fifth last year in 1:00:04, Benjamin Malaty, who finished 11th at the Berlin Marathon two weeks ago as well as the miler Florian Carvalho, who will move up to longer distances – the 2012 1500m European silver medallist holds a 10 km PB of 28:46 set two years ago on the challenging course of Rome.
Kenya’s Evans Kiprop Cheruiyot still holds the course record of 57:19, a time which he set in 2005.
Jeptoo the favourite in women’s race
On the women’s side, in the absence of the last year’s champion Etagegne Woldu, Susan Jeptoo seems to be the favourite. The 30-year-old Kenyan finished third in 2016 and showed her current form by clocking a new personal best of 32:11 over 10km in Arras in August. The next week in Lille she improved her half marathon best to 1:09:02, finishing runner-up.
Her main opponent should be Ethiophia’s Chaltu Dida, who won the French Classic “Paris-Versailles” two weeks ago. She also beat her half marathon PB in September, finishing runner-up in 1:15:05 in Auray.
French hopes will rest on Sophie Duarte, the 2013 European cross country champion. Her best performance this year was a 32:38 10km in March.
The course record is held by Rose Chelimo, who recorded 1:05:01 in 2014.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF