Kenya’s Gilbert Kirwa and Germany’s Fate Tola are very much in the focus before the HAJ Hannover Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Sunday (8).
The fastest runner in the field at 2:06:14, Kirwa hopes to finally put recent injury problems behind him and produce a convincing performance on the flat course by attacking the course record.
"I was able to train very well in the past three months, so I am looking forward to the race on Sunday and hope to go for the course record,“ said Kirwa, who has had some success in German-speaking regions in the past. Back in 2009 he first took the Vienna City Marathon and then went on to win in Frankfurt, where he produced his personal best of 2:06:14.
Three other runners besides Kirwa have sub-2:08 bests: Poland’s Henryk Szost with 2:07:39 and Kenyans Cheshari Jacob and Duncan Koech with 2:07:46 and 2:07:53 respectively. The quartet intends to run the first half in 1:04 which would be on pace to threaten the 2:08:32 course record set by South Africa’s Lusapho April five years ago.
The women's race has shaped into a battle between Tola and Kenya’s Agnes Kiprop. With a personal best of 2:23:54 Kiprop is the fastest of the pair.
"On Sunday I plan to run the first half in 1:13 and then go for the course record," Kiprop said. Ukraine’s Olena Burkovska has held the course record of 2:27:07 since 2013.
For Tola it is mainly about victory. But there is an additional motivation for her since she switched clubs at the beginning of the year and now competes for Hannover Athletics. As a local she will surely receive additional support on Sunday.
"My training went very well in the past weeks," said Tola, who trained at high altitude in Addis Ababa over the past two months. "I have a slight cold but I am still confident. If all goes well and it does not get too warm in the final part of the race then I will try to go for the course record."
"It is an advantage that there were some minor changes regarding the course since there are less bends now. This helps and it is possible to run faster," added Tola, who has a 2:25:14 personal best. Last year she clocked 2:27:48 here.
Organisers for the IAAF
Gilbert Kirwa, KEN, 2:06:14
Henryk Szost, POL, 2:07:39
Cheshari Jacob, KEN, 2:07:46
Duncan Koech, KEN, 2:07:53
Seboka Negussa Erre, ETH, 2:09:14
Michael Kunyuga, KEN, 2:10:43
Dejene Kelkilew Aga, ETH, 2:11:21
Justus Kiprotich, KEN, 2:11:38
Agnes Kiprop, KEN, 2:23:54
Fate Tola, GER, 2:25:14
Sechale Adugna, ETH, 2:26:27
Sifan Demise, ETH, 2:31:21
Olga Skrypak, UKR, 2:31:30