The men's leaders during the 2016 Lattelecom Riga Marathon (© Organisers)
Lusapho April of South Africa and Kenyan Georgina Jepkirui Rono will start as favourites at the Lattelecom Riga Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (20).
April, who has a 2:08:32 lifetime best, is one of the most-titled runners in the field, having climbed the podium at races throughout the world during his career. A three-time Hannover Marathon winner, April’s greatest achievement was a third place finish at the New York City Marathon in 2013 clocking 2:09:45.
Several runners are prepared to pull off surprises, including Kenyan Joseph Kyengo Munywoki, the 2017 winner in Riga in 2:12:14. His compatriot Silas Too has also illustrated fine form, clocking a 2:08:26 personal best for second in Barcelona in March.
Duncan Cheruiyot Koech has the credential to make an impact, bringing a 2:07:53 lifetime best to the start line. The 36-year-old ran that six years ago but has recently threatened the 2:10 barrier with a third place finish at last month's Hannover Marathon where he clocked 2:10:19.
Others in the hunt include 2016 Warsaw Marathon winner Artur Kozlowski, who has a 2:10:58 personal best from Vienna in 2012 and Kenyan Jacob Chesari, who has a 2:07:46 best set in 2013. The 34-year-old contested two marathons last year, in Mumbai and Lisbon, and finished runner-up at both.
Meanwhile, Rono, the favourite in the women's race, has a pair of high profile podium finishes to her name, second place in Frankfurt in 2012 where she clocked her 2:21:39 career best, and a third place finish in Boston earlier that year. She can also boast of victories in Eindhoven and Hannover. More recently, she was third at the Dongying Marathon in 2017 clocking 2:28:52.
Among the opposition in Riga is last year's runner-up Kikuyo Tsuzaki of Japan, whose 2:31:32 career best came on this course in 2017. Two-time Warsaw Marathon winner Nastassia Ivanova from Belarus should also be a factor. The 35-year-old has a 2:27:24 personal best from 2012, but ran close to that when defending her Warsaw title last month clocking 2:28:03. Others in the mix include Ethiopian Tigist Teshome, who ran her lifetime best of 2:29:57 at the Castellon Marathon in February.
More than 35,000 runners from 70 countries are expected to take part.
Organisers and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF