Stephen Mokoka winning at the 2013 Shanghai International Marathon (© Organisers)
Strong line-ups in both fields for the 19th Shanghai International Marathon means that the course records could be in jeopardy at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (2).
Both existing course records were set back in 2012 with Kenya’s Sylvester Teimet clocking 2:09:01 in the men’s race and Ethiopia’s Feyse Tadese running 2:23:07 in the women’s.
Last year’s winner Stephen Mokoka returns to Shanghai to defend his title. The South African ran 2:09:30 for the win last year, but this time round the 29-year-old will be the ninth-fastest runner in the field.
Eight men on the Shanghai startline have PBs better than Mokoka’s 2:08:33, which he ran in Seoul in 2010. The fastest man in the field is Ethiopia’s Endeshaw Negesse, who ran 2:04:52 in 2013. The 26-year-old has already finished one marathon this season, clocking 2:08:32 for second place in Dusseldorf.
The fastest this season is Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany, who ran a 2:06:24 personal best for second place in Seoul in March. The 32-year-old also placed second at the Commonwealth Games in 2:11:58 in July.
Ethiopia’s Abreham Cherkos is not far behind with a 2:07:08 season’s best, achieved in Seoul in March. The 25-year-old former world youth and world junior champion has a personal best of 2:06:13 from 2011.
One athlete with a previous victory in China is Mariko Kipchumba from Kenya. The 32-year-old was crowned winner in January 2014 in Xiamen in 2:08:06 and has a 2:06:05 personal best from 2012.
Other notable names include Kenya’s Mark Korir, who ran a 2:07:08 personal best in 2013, Ethiopia’s Teferi Kebede, who ran a lifetime best of 2:07:35 two years ago, and Moroccan Adil Annani, who ran 2:07:43 when finishing fourth at the London Marathon in 2012.
Tufa takes on Kirwa
The top three finishers from last year’s women’s race will not be present, but there are five athletes in the field with PBs faster than 2:25 and a total of 10 with sub-2:30 PBs.
The fastest runner this season is Tigist Tufa from Ethiopia. The 33-year-old has completed two marathons this season, setting PBs in both, first with 2:28:04 in Santa Monica, and then with her 2:24:31 victory in Toronto.
Bahrain’s 30-year-old Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa has won two marathons this year, including at the Asian Games, and has the fastest personal best of the field with her 2:21:41 run in Amsterdam two years ago.
Mamitu Daska, also from Ethiopia, will run her first marathon of the season in Shanghai. The 31-year-old has a personal best of 2:21:59 and has impressed over the shorter distances on the roads this season. In June she won a 10km race in Boston in 31:04 and then a half marathon in 1:08:20 in October.
Countrywoman Atsede Baysa has been far off her best form in 2014. Winner of the 2012 Chicago Marathon in a PB of 2:22:03, the 27-year-old clocked 2:35:03 in February and 2:37:55 in June, so will obviously looking for a much better time here.
Kenya’s Caroline Kilel finished a disappointing 17th at the Boston Marathon in April in 2:32:04, but turned in a much better performance in Glasgow in July, with a second-place finish at the Commonwealth Games in a 2:27:10 season’s best. The 33-year-old has a personal best of 2:22:34, which she clocked winning the 2013 Frankfurt Marathon.
Other notable runners include Ethiopian trio Selomie Getnet (2:25:13), Misiker Mekonnin (2:25:21) and Deribe Godana (2:27:32).
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF