Florence Kiplagat at the 2013 BMW Berlin Marathon (© Victah Sailer / organisers)
Kenya’s 2013 Berlin Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat will make her competitive debut over 10 Miles at the BUPA Great South Run, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in the British city of Portsmouth on Sunday (27).
The 2010 World Half Marathon champion headlines the 24th edition of the race, which boasts strong fields in both the men’s and women’s events. The flat course also promises fast times if the notorious south coast winds keep at bay.
Kiplagat is the favourite to take the victory on her return to action following her 2:21:13 clocking over 26.2 miles in the German capital last month and she will be targeting Sonia O’Sullivan’s 11-year-old course record of 51:00.
The experienced Kenyan will be joined on the start line by compatriot Polline Wanjiku, who has enjoyed success in British road races this year, having won the Bath Half Marathon back in March, while Kiplagat’s strongest challenger is likely to be Portugal’s Jessica Augusto.
The 2010 European cross-country champion is no stranger to the British roads and will be able to draw inspiration from her seventh place finish in the London 2012 Olympics Games Marathon, in addition to her win at the 2009 Great North Run.
Also looking to place highly will be a number of British athletes, including IAAF World Championships Marathon representatives Susan Partridge and Sonia Samuels, as well as former European Cross Country Championships junior champion Charlotte Purdue, who finished fourth in this race in 2011.
Partridge, in particular, is in fine form, having followed her 10th place finish in Moscow with a victory at the recent Great Scottish Half Marathon, where she ran 1:10:40, just 10 seconds shy of her personal best.
Poland’s Dominika Nowakowska, a finalist in the 5000m at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow this summer, will be looking to make a successful transition into longer distance running, while South Africa’s 2012 Olympian Rene Kalmer will attempt to put an injury-plagued year behind her as she seeks to better her 55:11 personal best and build upon the South African Half Marathon title that she secured in East London last month.
While Kiplagat may be the strong favourite for the women’s race, the men’s is far less clear-cut.
Mokoka back to defend men's title
South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka returns to defend the title that he won comfortably in 2012, when he sprinted clear of Ayad Lamdassem and Tariku Bekele in the closing stages, yet he faces the challenge of Uganda’s in-form Thomas Ayeko, who has delayed the end to his season after his excellent Half Marathon victory at last week’s Great Birmingham Run, and Kenya’s Emmanuel Bett.
Mokoka has enjoyed a successful 2013, having won the World University Games 10,000m title in July, followed by a win in 1:02:45 at the recent South African Half Marathon championships, yet he will be wary of Ayeko, who followed up a strong 11th-placed showing on the track in the 10,000m in Moscow with a Half Marathon debut to remember in Birmingham last week, tackling a difficult course in 1:02:32.
Two of the men that Ayeko beat on Sunday, Great Britain’s Chris Thompson and the USA’s Abdi Abdirahman, who were second and third respectively, also make the journey to Portsmouth and will be looking to consolidate their form after promising performances in the English Midlands.
Thompson, the 2010 European 10,000m silver medallist, was particularly encouraged by his 1:03:03 in Birmingham and will be looking to improve on his 10 Miles best of 48:07, which he ran when he finished fourth in this race in 2011.
Kenya’s Bett is a consistent performer on both the roads and the track and, with bests of 1:00:56 for the Half Marathon and 26:51.16 for 10,000m, the latter mark being the fastest time in the world over 25 laps of the track in 2012, he should also feature strongly.
Last year’s second-place finisher Lamdassem is another runner in good shape at the moment, having taken third, one place behind Bett, at the Great Scottish Half Marathon in Glasgow three weeks ago.
The Spaniard will look to utilise his local knowledge and experience on the Portsmouth roads, while his countryman, the 2006 European 5000m champion Jesus Espana, continues his foray into longer distance road running.
Espana made his Half Marathon debut at the same event in Glasgow and the 35-year-old finished fourth in 1:04:01.
Switzerland’s 2007 IAAF World Championships Marathon medallist Viktor Rothlin, Canada’s Dylan Wykes and Britain’s Andy Vernon also feature in a highly competitive elite men’s field.
Dean Hardman for the IAAF