Defending champions Simon Kamama Mukun and Makda Harun Haji top the field at the Venice Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, which will celebrate its 26th edition on Sunday (23).
The popular Italian race has growing over the years and organisers announced last May that all available 7000 starting places were sold out soon after entries were opened in May. The number of foreign entries has increased by 30%.
Last year organisers were forced to change the course on the eve of the event due to the high tide, cancelling the spectacular lap in the worldwide famous St. Mark Square at the last moment. This year the 7000 runners will go through St. Mark Square, as weather forecast for Sunday’s race is expected to be good.
Last year Mukun won a dramatic fight against Ethiopian Sahle Betona in the final kilometres run over the famous bridges romping home in 2:09:35. After Venice Mukun went on to finish fifth at the Rome Marathon in 2:10:34.
The runner with the fastest time is Nicholas Kipruto Koech who ran 2:07:23 in Prague 2010. The Kenyan contingent is completed by Patrick Wachira Muriuki and Benjamin Kiprono Cheboi.
The Ethiopian challenge is led by Aredo Tolesa Tadesse who won two top Italian Marathons in Florence 2010 (2:12:41 on a rainy day) and Padua 2011 (PB 2:09:02), Gidena Mirach Gebremedhin (PB 2:10:15) and Guta Birbo Bulbula (PB 2:10:51).
Danilo Goffi, the 1998 European silver medallist, will carry the Italian hopes in a race which launched his international career with his win in 1995.
In the women’s race Haji will square off against Kenyan Helena Loshanyang Kirop.
After her Venice win last year Haji went on to improve her career best to 2:27:46 to finish fourth at the Daegu Marathon. Kirop holds a Marathon PB with 2:24:54 in Dubai 2010 and dipped twice under 2:28 this year.
Not to write off are Kenyan Hellen Wanjiku Mugo who won last year’s Carpi Marathon in 2:27:16, Ethiopian Biru Workenesh Tola (PB 2:25:17) and Russian Yevgeniya Danilova (PB 2:31:44).
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF