Kenya’s Asbel Kipsang and Tefera Dinknesh Mekash from Ethiopia will start as favourites at the Asics Firenze Marathon, a World Athletics Bronze Label race, on Sunday (24).
Kipsang won the race in his debut over the 42 km distance in 2014 in 2:09:55. He went on to clock his personal best with 2:07:30 in Seoul in 2016 and will aim at breaking the Florence course record held by his compatriot James Kutto who clocked 2:08:40 in 2006. Kipsang finished third in Shanghai in 2:09:02 and sixth in Paris in 2:08:29 in 2017.
Moroccan Hicham Bofars, 31, also returns to Florence, where he finished second last year in personal best of 2:12:16. Bofars ran all his three marathon races in Florence in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
Kenyan Peter Kirui Cheruiyot boasts solid personal best times in the half marathon with 59:22 from Prague in 2014 and in the marathon with 2:06:31 from Frankfurt in 2011.
Gilbert Kipleting Chumba from Kenya has already run on Italian soil and won the past two editions of the Treviso Marathon - in 2018 he clocked his personal best of 2:12:19.
The Ethiopian contingent will be represented by Gereme Azmeraw Mengistu and Nigussie Sahlesilassie Bekele. Mengistu set his personal best of 2:12:27 in November 2016. Bekele won the Stockolm marathon last June in 2:10:10, also a personal best.
Morocco’s Hicham Amghar, who has a 1:00:23 half marathon PB, will make his marathon debut.
The best Italian runner in the field is Ahmed Nasef, who won two national marathon titles and set his marathon career best of 2:10:59 in 2012.
The fastest runner in the women’s field is Ethiopia’s Dinknesh Mekash Tefera, who set her career best of 2:23:12 in Frankfurt in 2015. Tefera will take on her compatriot Amelework Bosho Fekadu, who has a 2:32:39 PB, Kenya’s Salina Jebet (winner in Astana 2018 in 2:31:06) and Burundi’s 21-year-old Elvanie Nimbona, who finished second in Padua last April in 2:30:28.
Croatian ultra-marathon specialist Nikolina Sustic set her previous marathon career best of 2:41:11 in Florence last year and improved this time to 2:37:55 in Padua in 2019. Former European U23 cross country champion Jess Piasecki will make her debut over the marathon distance after improving her personal best in the half marathon to 1:11:42 in Usti nad Labem in Czech Republic last September.
Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics