David Kemboi Kiyeng in Chuncheon (© Chuncheon Organisers)
Kenya’s David Kiyeng was optimistic that he could beat his own course record of 2:07:57 at the Daegu International Marathon on Sunday 14 April, when the IAAF Silver Label Road Race held its pre-race press conference on Friday (12).
“It is like running at home here, the temperature and weather conditions are very similar to our training place of Eldoret in Kenya,” said the 30-year-old Kiyeng, who is a regular visitor to Korea and whose successes include a win at the Chuncheon Marathon last October.
“I think that’s the reason why I always run fast here,” adding that he had come to the host city of the 2011 IAAF World Championships to improve on his personal best of 2:06:26 from when he finished third in the 2009 Paris Marathon.
The race organisers have reunited Kiyeng with his compatriots Gilbert Chepkwony and Benson Barus, who were second and third in 29012.
“When you are in shape, every course is good and feels easy, when you are out of shape it does not matter how the course looks like, you are just out of shape and it is easy to blame the course!” joked Barus, a World junior 10,000m champion back in 1998 and another man who could challenge the course record as he has a best time of 2:07:07 from when he won the Prague Marathon two years ago.
The pace is set around 2:06 and all athletes said they were happy with that. Challenging the Kenyans will be Ethiopia’s Debebe Tolossa, who has a best of 2:07:41. Unfortunately, Tolossa's compatriot Yemane Tsegay Adhane, who won last year’s prestigious Rotterdam Marathon in a blazing time of 2:04:49, has been ill in the last week and will not be on the starting line as originally planned.
Tambwe and Kiprotich to fly the flag for France
A lot of eyes in Daegu and elsewhere will also be on the performance of France's Patrick Tambwe, Europe's fastest marathon runner in 2012.
Now 37, Tambwe ran 2:07:30 in the 2012 Tiberias Marathon to be the fastest man in the world who wasn't from Kenya or Ethiopia. It also made him the 12th fastest European ever over the classic distance.
The race in Korea will be Tambwe's first outing over any distance since the London 2012 Olympic Games marathon last summer. Tambwe failed to finish in London, pulling out at 18km when back in around 50th place, after standing on the start line with ambitions of finishing in the top 10.
He paid the price at the Olympics for losing three weeks training in June and July last year. "I lost a loved uncle who died in May (2012), and I had to organise the funeral, everything. I stopped eating as I should and, at the same time, I continued to train hard. I depleted my reserves and this is why a doctor then advised that I should take three weeks off," Tambwe explained at the time.
Another top French marathon runner in Daegu will be Abraham Kiprotich. The Kenyan-born runner was a journeyman steeplechaser for several years while trying to juggle his military duties as a member of the French Foreign Legion.
However, he started training seriously in 2009, in between tours of duty in Afghanistan and Chad, and got his French citizenship two years later.
Like Tambwe, he failed to finish the Marathon in London last summer but earlier last year he had run 2:08:35 on his debut over the distance in Dusseldorf.
Kiprotich’s wife Agnes Barsosio is one of the favorites in the women’s race. She won the 2012 Dusseldorf Marathon in 2:25:49 and improved to 2:24:27 in Frankfurt last October.
Her main rival on paper looks to be Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros. The 27-year-old started her 2013 season with a run of 2:24:30 at the Dubai Marathon in January. “I did not come here to be second,” said Kiros on Friday, exuding confidence.
Approximately 16,000 runners are expected to participate in the Marathon, which started back in 2002.
Organisers for the IAAF