Kenya's Albert Matebor wins the Lodz Marathon (© SportoGrafia.pl)
Kenyans Ezekiel Omullo and Ruth Wanjiru will be attempting to repeat their 2015 wins at the 38th PZU Warsaw Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race and one of the oldest road races in Poland, on Sunday (25).
Omullo was the victor last year with 2:09:19, the second fastest time in the race’s history. At the time, this performance improved the Kenyan's PB by nearly seven minutes. Since then, however, he had a creditable performance in Rome this year, finishing sixth in 2:11:49.
The fastest man in the field by some way is another Kenyan, Albert Matebor. His career best of 2:05:25 dates back to 2011, when he finished third in Frankfurt. The 35-year-old also ran in the 2:08 range twice in that same race, in 2012 and 2013. His career record includes a win in Verona in 2011, second place in Gold Coast in the same year and top five finishes in races which include Los Angeles, Rome and Prague. Although this is the first time he will be running in Warsaw, Matebor is no stranger to the Polish road circuit. He won the Lodz Marathon in 2015 and finished fifth in the same race this year.
Nicolas Chelimo is yet another Kenyan contender in the race. His fastest performances came in 2009 and 2010, when he broke 2:08 in Amsterdam and Eindhoven, respectively. More recently, he was the winner in Cologne in 2013 with 2:09:45 and his last marathon outing resulted in a third place showing in Sydney last year.
A fourth Kenyan, Dominic Kimwetich, also has a sub-2:10 time to his name, achieved when he finished runner-up in Brighton in 2014. A prolific and consistent marathon runner, he has broken 2:12 eight times since 2013. This year alone, he finished sixth in Barcelona in March in 2:11:43 and won in Riga two months later, running just two seconds slower.
The Polish challenge will be led by Jared Shegumo. The Ethiopian-born runner is best known for the European Championships silver he took in 2014, but he has had a number of other strong performances, including his win in Warsaw in 2013 (in a still-standing PB of 2:10:34), a second place in the race in 2012, as well as a victory in Lodz in 2014.
Troubled by injuries earlier this year, Shegumo had more bad luck when he nearly missed the Olympic marathon due to flight delays and was clearly not at his best in Rio, finishing 128th, giving him more motivation to redeem himself in the Polish capital.
Also notable in the men's field is Akiyuki Iwanaga of Japan, who ran 2:12:24 in this year's Tokyo Marathon, improving his best by nearly five minutes.
Wanjiru the woman to beat
On the women's side, defending champion Wanjiru will once again start as a favourites. The second fastest performer in the Warsaw Marathon's history with her 2:29:39 in 2015, she has a best of 2:27:38 from Osaka in 2009. Wanjiru finished in the top-3 in all four of her marathon outings last year and was sixth in Enschede in April.
One of her main rivals may turn out to be Jane Muia, the Kenyan who is making her debut, but has a 1:10:26 half marathon to her name. Another contender is Gladys Kibiwott of Bahrain who won in Copenhagen this year.
The best of the Polish runners in the women's contest is Anna Szyszka, who finished fifth here last year with 2:37:47 on her marathon debut.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF