Tadu Abate, Solomon Deksisa, Abdi Nageeye and Linet Masai at the Amsterdam Marathon press conference (Ronald Hoogendoorn / organisers) © Copyright
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Weekend road preview: swift times anticipated in Amsterdam, Toronto, Delhi and Lisbon

One year on from setting PBs at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, Ethiopia’s Solomon Deksisa and Kenya’s Linet Masai return to the IAAF Gold Label road race with a view to claiming victory on Sunday (20).

Deksisa clocked 2:04:40 to finish third in the Dutch city last year and placed third, finishing just 34 seconds behind Lawrence Cherono, who set a course record of 2:04:06. “The course is completely flat and I am really looking forward to it,” Deksisa said at the pre-race press conference.

Fellow Kenyans Elisha Rotich and Vincent Kipchumba head to Amsterdam off the back of PBs earlier this year. Rotich ran 2:06:12 in Seoul, while Kipchumba won in Vienna in 2:06:56.

Following the withdrawal of Ayele Abshero, who contracted food poisoning this week, Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands has been added to the field. This year the 30-year-old has set Dutch records of 2:06:17 for the marathon and 1:00:24 for the half marathon. Nageeye, who trains alongside Eliud Kipchoge, also clocked 59:55 at the Great North Run, a course not eligible for record purposes.

“If you can keep up with him (Kipchoge) during the training sessions, you know that you have become a better athlete,” said Nageeye, “and you can believe that you will also go faster and faster in competitions.”

The lead pack will be paced through the half-way point in 1:02:30 with the aim of finishing in about 2:05:00.

Masai, the 2009 world 10,000m champion, set her PB of 2:23:46 to finish fifth in Amsterdam last year. Following a 1:07:44 run at the Great North Run, she returns to Amsterdam this year with one eye on the course record of 2:21:09, set by Meseret Hailu Debele in 2012.

Bahrain’s Mimi Belete is another former track specialist who has turned to the marathon in recent years. Her PB of 2:22:29, set when winning in Toronto last year, makes her the fastest woman in the field.

Azmera Gebru, who finished third in Amsterdam last year and improved her PB to 2:22:52 earlier this year in Paris, leads a strong Ethiopian contingent. She’ll be joined by 2018 Amsterdam runner-up Shasho Insermu and Guteni Shone, who have respective PBs of 2:23:28 and 2:23:32

The weather forecast for Sunday morning is good: dry with temperatures between 10-12C and a light breeze from the south.

Eric Roeske for the IAAF

 

Olympic places at stake in Toronto

Olympic qualifying will be uppermost in the thoughts of many athletes at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday (20), although the winner’s purse of CDN $30,000 for the IAAF Gold Label road race is also a pretty nice incentive.

Race director Alan Brookes has assembled a terrific field with several athletes having asserted their intention to tackle the course records held by Philemon Rono (2:06:52 in 2017, also the Canadian all-comers’ recod) and Mimi Belete (2:22:29 in 2018). The race has put up CDN$40,000 for new records – $50,000 for an all-comers’ record.

Rono, who won in both 2016 and 2017, returns, inspired no doubt by the success of his training partner, Eliud Kipchoge, in Vienna last weekend but must contend with the man who supplanted him as Toronto champion a year ago, Benson Kipruto.

Philemon Rono on his way to winning the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (Victah Sailer / organisers)Philemon Rono on his way to winning the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (Victah Sailer / organisers) © Copyright

 

The Kenyan duo might have to venture into course record territory since a contingent of Ethiopian athletes, led by 2016 Boston Marathon champion Lemi Berhanu Hayle, Abera Kuma (2:05:50 best) and Tsedet Ayana (2:06:36 best), have made the journey from Addis.

Lemi represented his country at the 2016 Rio Olympics and knows he needs an excellent performance here to impress the Ethiopian selectors if he has any chance of running at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Canadian hopes rest with Cameron Levins whose celebrated debut here a year ago resulted in him beating Jerome Drayton’s 43-year-old Canadian record with his 2:09:25 for fourth place. Scotiabank has put up a $30,000 bonus should he or any other Canadians beat the national mark.

The women’s race will be no less compelling. Ethiopia’s three-time Houston Marathon winner Biruktayit Degefa Eshetu and Dibabe Kuma as well as Ruth Chebitok of Kenya are evenly matched on paper as their PBs range between 2:23:28 and 2:23:34. Chebitok’s personal best was set when finishing third in Toronto last year, which could prove advantageous. Then there is the unknown contingent.

The 22-year-old Ethiopian Bekelech Gudeta is making her marathon debut here and is brimming with confidence. Together with her coach they boldly believe her 1:07:03 half marathon personal best, together with high volume marathon training, can put her near Belete’s course record.

Magdalyne Masai-Robertson, the Kenyan wife of New Zealand’s Jake Robertson who finished fifth in Toronto a year ago, has been given ‘intel’ on the city and the race from her husband. Although she has run 2:26:02 earlier this year in Hamburg, she appears capable of much faster times.

Most intriguing, however, is the addition on Tuesday of Kenya’s Betsy Saina. The winner of the 2018 Paris Marathon in 2:22:56, she dropped out of the Chicago Marathon having reached halfway in 1:11:11 after suffering from stomach cramps.

Weather forecasts predict that it is likely to be about 10C at the 8:45am start, perfect for a record attempt.

The race will be live streamed on STWM.ca and cbcsports.ca with no geoblocking.

Paul Gains for the IAAF

 

Belihu and course record-holder Gemechu to defend Delhi Half Marathon titles

Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu will return to the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to defend their titles at the 15th edition of this prestigious IAAF Gold Label road race on Sunday (20).

Belihu won in India’s capital city last year in 59:18, just missing out on the course record of 59:06 held since 2014 by his compatriot Guye Adola.

“Immediately after last year’s race I said that I was going to come back to Delhi in 2019 as I had unfinished business with the course record and I am keeping my promise,” said the 20-year-old, who returned to India in May earlier this year to win the TCS World 10K title in Bengaluru.

Fellow Ethiopian Amdework Walelegn, who finished second in 2018, also returns with the ambition of going one better.

Seven men in this year’s field have PBs inside 60 minutes but much of the attention will be on a man who has yet to run the distance: Hagos Gebrhiwet.

Gebrhiwet had planned to make his half marathon debut in Delhi last year but a late bout of illness curtailed his training. However, he will stand on the start line this year and he arrives in Delhi off the back of a strong track season that included a 5000m season’s best of 12:54.92, a 10,000m PB of 26:48.95 and a ninth-place finish in that event at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.

Erick Kiptanui is the fastest in the field. The Kenyan notched up two impressive half marathon victories in 2018, including a 58:42 PB in Berlin.

Ethiopia's Tsehay Gemechu breaks the course record at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (Procam International/organisers)Ethiopia's Tsehay Gemechu breaks the course record at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (Procam International/organisers) © Copyright

 

Last year, Tsehay Gemechu made a huge impact on her debut over the distance when she set a course record of 1:06:50. In 2019 she has shown it was no fluke with a string of sparkling performances both on the roads and the track, including taking the African Games 10,000m title and finishing fourth in the 5000m at the World Championships in Doha in a PB of 14:29.60.

Caroline Kipkirui, who set a personal best of 1:05:07 at the 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, is the fastest in the field. Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer, who finished third in Delhi last year, also returns.

Both the men’s and women’s races have first-prize cheques of US$27,000 with a total prize money purse (combined men and women) of US$275,000.

Organisers for the IAAF

 

Course records likely in Lisbon

With two IAAF Label road races being held on the same day – the LUSO Lisbon Half Marathon (Gold) and the EDP Lisbon Marathon (Silver) – and competitive fields lined up for both, there’s a strong chance of at least one course record being broken in the Portuguese capital on Sunday (20).

Kenya’s 2016 world half marathon champion and former world record-holder Peres Jepchirchir leads the women’s field for the half marathon. The 26-year-old, who had a baby at the end of 2017, has returned to action this year with a best of 1:07:36, two-and-a-half minutes shy of her lifetime best.

She’ll face defending champion Yebrgual Melese of Ethiopia, who set a course record of 1:07:18 last year.

Yebrqual Melese wins the Shanghai Marathon (AFP / Getty Images)Yebrqual Melese wins the Shanghai Marathon (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright

 

Others in the field include Kenya’s Vivian Kiplagat, 10km world leader Dorcas Kimeli, Monica Jepkoech, Ethiopia’s Waganesh Amare, South Africa’s Glenrose Xaba and Portuguese duo Jessica Augusto and Catarina Ribeiro.

With a PB of 58:48, Kenya’s Jorum Okombo is the fastest in the men’s half marathon field and has the ability to challenge the course record of 1:00:13, but he heads to Lisbon with a season’s best of 1:02:31 so might not be at his absolute best.

Eritrea’s Amanuel Mesel, who has a best of 1:00:10 and finished seventh at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships, will be keen to improve on his third-place finish from last year. Uganda’s Thomas Ayeko, seventh at this year’s World Cross Country Championships, and Kenya’s Daniel Rotich also have PBs inside 61 minutes and should contend for top honours. Hermano Ferreira, who has a best of 1:01:24, is the leading Portuguese entrant.

The course record of 2:07:34 will be the prime target for the leading men in the marathon field.

Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany, who has a best of 2:06:24, is the fastest in the field, but his PB was set back in 2014 and the 37-year-old hasn’t raced this year. Fellow Kenyan Samuel Wanjiku won in Lisbon in 2014 in 2:08.21, but his PB of 2:07:04 dates back even further to 2012.

Barnabas Kiptum, however, heads to Lisbon off the back of a 2:08:02 lifetime best at the Gold Coast Marathon just three months ago. Likewise, Ethiopia’s Andualem Shiferaw (2:08:16) and Birhanu Teshome (2:08:20) have set PBs earlier this year.

Others in the field with PBs inside 2:09 include Kenya’s former steeplechaser Patrick Terer, Joseph Aperumoi and Richard Mengich.

Fatuma Sado’s lifetime best of 2:24:16 is just three seconds shy of the Lisbon course record. The Ethiopian won in Osaka earlier this year in 2:25:39, the second-fastest performance of her career, and will start as the favourite on Sunday.

Compatriot Sechale Dalasa set her PB of 2:26:27 on her debut at the distance back in 2012 but has come close to it on several occasions since then, including her 2:28:46 run in Houston earlier this year. Kenya’s Truphena Chepchirchir, meanwhile, set her PB of 2:27:52 at this year’s Dongying Marathon.

Others in the field include Ethiopia’s 2008 world U20 5000m champion Sule Utura, Kenya’s Helen Jepkurgat and 2010 Commonwealth 10,000m silver medallist Doris Changeywo.

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF