Leonard Komon winning the 2014 Berlin Half Marathon ahead of Abraham Cheroben (© SCC Events / Petko Beier)
Kenyan runners have not dominated the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon in quite the same way that they have other international races over this distance, but with Leonard Komon and Sammy Kitwara on the start line, they look set to feature prominently in this year’s edition of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (20).
Komon is the 10km and 15km world record holder and has a half marathon best of 59:14 while Kitwara stands at number seven on the all-time list with his best of 58.48, albeit from 2011 and he has not broken the hour since then
Compatriots Kenneth Kipkemoi, Simon Cheprot, who has a best of 59:20 and twice ran under the hour last year, and 2015 Shanghai Marathon winner Paul Lonyangata, have also all gone under the hour in their careers.
Further Kenyans who could be bidding for a high place are the renowned 10,000m runner Emmanuel Bett and Stephen Omiso could also enter the reckoning for a high place.
Eritrean runners have been successful in the Portuguese capital in the past and it was notably the race in which Zersenay Tadese set the world record of 58:23 in 2010, the first of three consecutive wins here.
Flying the Eritrean flag this year are Tadese’s occasional training partners Goitom Kifle, who has a best of 1:00:20 and who was second in this race in the ‘other’ Lisbon half marathon – held in the autumn – in 2013, and also Amanuel Mesel.
The top local runners are Hermano Ferreira, Yousef El Kalay and Rui Teixeira.
Kenya’s three-time IAAF World Cross Country Championships silver medallist Linet Masai may not be the fastest runner in the women’s race but might well be considered the favourite due to her credentials over shorter distance.
Her one and only half marathon to date was two years ago in Birmingham when she finished third in 1:11:45 and that personal best looks set for revision.
Ethiopian trio Wude Ayalew Yimer, Koren Jelela and Ruti Aga look likely to be Masai’s strongest rivals.
However, well-known Portuguese internationals Sara Moreira and Dulce Felix could well get the cheers of the home crowd and hopefully prosper.
Also worth watching are France’s Clemence Calvin and Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba, respectively the 10,000m silver medallists at 2014 European Championships and Asian Games.
Antonio Fernandes for the IAAF