Abraham Cheroben winning the 2014 Berlin 25km (© organisers / Victah Sailer)
The fourth edition of the Mattoni Ceske Budejovice Half Marathon sees Kenya’s Abraham Cheroben and Ethiopia’s Ayele Abshero start as favourites for the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Saturday (6).
The pair, and the rest of the elite field, will be chasing Daniel Chebii’s course record of 59:49, set in the inaugural race in 2012. The historic town in southern Bohemia will form a picturesque backdrop to a race where seven men will line up with personal bests of under 61 minutes.
However, Cheroben is the fastest by a considerable margin.
The 22-year-old ran the fastest half marathon in the world last year to win the Valencia title in 58:48. His recent form is also impressive, winning the Berlin 25 km for the second consecutive year, and running 1:12:31 despite strong headwinds. At the end of March he finished third in the Berlin half marathon with 59:49.
Cheroben was eager to explore the town and part of Saturday’s circuit in an early morning run on Friday, although his run was extended to 15km when he lost his bearings before a police motorcyclist set him back on course.
He later reflected on the tough background which has been the foundation of his rise, and his hopes for further running success in his family.
“I am training in a camp in Eldoret and life there is hard but it means you can win when you train like that. In my family, I have three brothers and four sisters. One of my sisters is still in school, she is only little but likes to run and I encourage her.”
Abshero 2015 debut
His rival Abshero will be contesting his first race of the year on his return from injury but the Ethiopian has an impressive pedigree in his career so far.
Abshero won the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:23 on his debut at the distance in 2012 and his best for the half marathon is 59:42.
Others to be reckoned with could include Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma, who has a personal best of 1:00:19 and the Kenyan quartet of Benjamin Ngandu (best of 1:00:20), Thomas Lokomwa (1:00:33), Bernard Bett (1:00:42) and Festus Talam (1:00:57).
The women’s favourite should be Rose Chelimo, of Kenya.
She is in top for over the half marathon distance this year, winning all her three races including the perennially competitive Lisbon event at the end of March in a personal best of 1:08:22.
A similar display should put the current race record of 1:10:54, set by the Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele also in 2012, under pressure. However, Chelimo will have to reckon with two rivals who have also broken 70 minutes for the distance: her fellow Kenyan Viola Jelagat (best of 1:09:27) and Ethiopia’s Letebrhan Haylay (1:09:45).
Britain’s Susan Partridge continues her return to form after taking a break following her sixth place in last year’s Commonwealth Games marathon.
Her best for the half marathon is 1:10:32 and Saturday’s race is a stepping stone towards Rio de Janeiro next year.
“The Olympics are the one major championship I haven’t run so every race is aimed at building towards the qualifying time for the marathon,” said the Briton.
The race will be streamed live on Saturday from 1845CET on www.runczech.com
Organisers for the IAAF