World marathon record-holder Brigid Kosgei is the standout entrant at the 14th Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, on Friday (21).
Kosgei, who ran to a stunning 2:14:04 world record at the Chicago Marathon last October, was seventh in this race two years ago, but is gunning for a much higher finish this time around.
"My goal is to improve my PB and to run fast in this strong field," Kosgei said. The 25-year-old clocked a lifetime best 1:05:28 in Zallaq, Bahrain, last March, but was significantly faster in her lead-in to Chicago, clocking 1:04:28 on the slightly downhill course at the Great North Run in South Shields, UK.
She's one of 11 women in the field with PBs inside 1:07, including former half marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir, reigning world half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta, and 2018 Ras Al Khaimah winner Fancy Chemutai.
"This is the same race where I almost broke the world record - this time the course is faster and I want the world record,” said Chemutai, who clocked 1:04:52 in this race two years ago. That was just one second shy of Joyciline Jepkosgei's world record set in Valencia in 2017.
Other contenders include Joan Chelimo Melly, Birhane Ababel Yeshane, Evaline Chirchir and Rosemary Wanjiru.
The men's race also features one of the fastest ever assembled.
Ethiopia's Mule Wasihun, who was third at the London Marathon last year in 2:03:16, brings a 59:34 career best to the line, but Julien Wanders of Switzerland, the European record holder at 59:13, has gone even faster. In all, 11 men have lifetime bests under 60 minutes.
Wanders, 23, has said training has been going very well after his 27:13 European 10km record run in Valencia last month, encouraging him to set his sights on the 59-minute barrier.
"It is a course that I like quite a lot," he said. "My training group helped me to arrive here in good shape.”
The field also includes world leader Alexander Mutiso Munyao at 59:09, Solomon Berihu (59:17), Amdalak Belihu (59:10) and Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo (59:26).
A record 5,064 runners will compete across a variety of race categories, including the half marathon, a relay, 5km and a 1km fun run.
Organisers for World Athletics