Rahma Tusa wins the Rome Marathon (Giancarlo Colombo / organisers) © Copyright
Preview Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Close contests expected at Boulogne-Billancourt Half Marathon

Kenyans Albert Kangogo and Parendis Lekapana may own the fastest times of their respective fields at the Boulogne-Billancourt Christian Grangier Half-Marathon, but it won’t be an easy task for them to take the top prize at the IAAF Bronze Label road race on Sunday (19).

Both races will crown new champions as past winners won’t be in the running on Sunday. For instance, the men’s defending champion Morris Munene couldn’t defend his title due to injury.

Kangogo finished fourth in Copenhagen two months ago in a personal best of 59:25, taking four seconds from his previous mark set in the same city 12 months prior.

Geoffrey Yegon should be, on paper, his main opponent. His 59:44 PB, set in Venlo last year, is the second-fastest time of the field. The 29-year-old Kenyan prevailed in Den Haag in March where he clocked a season’s best of 59:56, the third best time of his career.

But he was beaten by Kangogo in Copenhagen, finishing ninth in 1:00:16, 51 seconds adrift of this compatriot, and he didn’t show his best form in his last outing, placing 21st in Valencia last month in a more modest 1:04:39.

Hiskel Tewelde should also contest for the victory. The 31-year-old Eritrean finished 17th in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships in London in 27:49:62. He clocked a season’s best of 1:01:17 in Houston at the beginning of the year, 48 seconds shy of the personal best he set in Yangzhou in 2015.

Other contenders who will be in the running for the podium include Precious Mashele of South Africa, Birhan Nebedew of Ethiopia and Hicham Amghar of Morocco.

Mashele prevailed at the 2015 Pretoria Half Marathon and set a PB of 1:01:56 earlier this year, while Nebedew won in Lisbon last month in 1:02:02 and earlier this year set a 10,000m PB of 27:35:67. Amghar, meanwhile, finished second in Trento last month in a PB of 1:02:21.

French hopes will rest on Denis Mayaud, who has a best of 1:03:01 and finished 14th at the Paris 20km early October.

Kenya’s Franklin Chepkwony set the course record of 1:00:11 in 2013.

The women’s race looks set to be a three-way contest between Parendis Lakapana of Kenya, Juliet Chekwel of Uganda and Rahma Tusa of Ethiopia.

Lakapana is the fastest woman in the field, courtesy of a 1:09:49 PB set last year, just 23 seconds shy of the Boulogne-Billancourt course record set in 2009 by Firehiwot Dado. The 26-year-old boasts seven career wins over the distance, but this year her best is a more modest 1:12:09.

Chekwel moved up to the half marathon in October, finishing third in Arezzo in 1:11:46. The 27-year-old, who finished ninth at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships, holds the Ugandan records for 5km (15:39) and 10,000m (31:37.99), so on Sunday she may also take aim at the national half marathon record of 1:11:06, which was coincidentally set on this course in 2008 by Adero Nyakisi.

Tusa has the third fastest PB of the field, but looks to be the main favourite. The 24-year-old set her PB of 1:12:21 back in 2015; she hasn’t contested a half marathon since then, but this year she has recorded PBs of 31:05.14 for 10,000m and 2:27:21 for the marathon, both of which suggest a sub-70-minute run might be possible.

Quentin Guillon for the IAAF