Tadese Aredo takes a 2:09:13 victory in Venice (Giancarlo Colombo/FIDAL) © Copyright

Quick times on tap in Rome - Preview

The 18th edition of the Rome Marathon ACEA, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, has attracted 15,500 road runners from 82 countries (8500 Italians and 7000 foreigners from all corners of the world) who will toe the starting-line from the world-wide famous Fori Imperiali on Sunday (18).

No less than seven top runners with a sub-2:09 PB and 14 runners with sub-2:10 credentials will take part in Sunday’s race.

Nicholas Kemboi from Qatar is the fastest runner in the field with a PB of 2:08:01 set in Valencia in 2011. Kemboi clocked a very fast 26:30.17 in the 10,000m on the track in Brussels in 2003 and 13:01.14 in the 5000m in Zürich, also that year.

Kemboi will take on Ethiopians Dereje Tesfaye Gebrehiwot (PB 2:08:28), Gidena Gebremeghin (PB 2:08:28), Tadese Toledo Aredo (2:09:02), winner in three Italian top marathons (Florence 2010, Padua 2011 and Venice 2011), Hussan Roba Adelo (2:09:09), Fikadu Kassa Kedir (2:09:15), Demssew Abebe Tsega (2:09:44). Kenyans in the field include Nickson Kurgat (PB 2:08:36), Luka Kanda (2:08:40), Daniel Kipkurui Kosgei (2:08:45), Samson Kiprono Barmao (2:08:56), Thomas Kipchumba Chemitei (2:09:21), Cosmas Koech Kimutai (2:09:25) and Philemon Gita Baaru (2:09:51).

Among top runners with a PB over 2:10 there are Kenyans Festus Kiprotich Langat (2:10:00) and Philemon Kipchumba Kisang (2:11:11), Ethiopians Tekeste Nurelign Nekatibeb (2:10:17) Gebeslassie Tsegaye Reda (2:10:32) and Ebisa Merga Ejigu (2:10:32) and former European Junior cross country champion Vasil Matviychuk from Ukraine (2:10:36).

Search for Dado’s successor - women’s race

The last three editions of the Rome Marathon were won by Ethiopian Firihwot Dado, who went on to conquer the 2011 New York City Marathon last November. The fastest woman in the field is Kenyan Hellen Jemaiyo Kimutai who set her lifetime best of 2:25:53 in Hamburg 2003 and finished ninth at the 2005 IAAF World Championships in Helsinki. She has already competed in Rome in 2007 when she finished second in 2:26:46.

The Kenyan will square off against Ethiopians Fatuma Dergo Sado (2:28:01), Shuru Diriba Dulume (2:28:26), Bizunesh Mohamed Urgesa (2:31:09), Ashete Dido Bekere (2:31:35), Kenyan Margaret Toroitich (2:31:09) and Russians Nina Podnebesnova (2:31:36), Yevgeniya Danilova (2:31.44) and Marina Kovaleva (2:32:20).

The quality of the Rome Marathon is shown by the fact that both Italian all-comers records were set in the Eternal City. The men’s course record is held by Benjamin Kiptoo who clocked 2:07:17, while Russian Galina Bogomolova set the women’s course record running 2:22:53 in 2008.

The course has undergone some changes which will contribute to its improvement it and make it as flat as possible. The windy and hilly 1.5 km stretch has been removed. This tough section will be replaced by a more fascinating section in the area where the 1960 Olympic Village was hosted. As a tribute to the history of sport, the course will pass along the place where Ethiopian Marathon legend Abebe Bikila was accomodated during the glorious days of his triumph at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

Despite all these changes, the race will keep its trademark as one of the most fascinating courses in the world which stretches along 500 places of historical, archaelogical, religious and architectural significance.

The programme also features the popular Roma Fun 4 km mass race which reached a record figure of 80,000 road runners in previous years.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF