Last updated: 19 April 14:30 CET
Kering and Kipketer the favourites at Nagano Marathon
Alfred Kering and Valentine Kipketer of Kenya will start as favourites at the 21st Nagano Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (21).
Kering is the fastest man in the field with a best of 2:07:11 set in Paris in 2010, one of three sub-2:08 performances the 39-year-old has to his credit.
Jackson Kiprop of Uganda is the next fastest, with a 2:09:32 best from the 2013 Mumbai Marathon. No one else in the field will arrive with sub-2:10 credentials, although Ezekiel Jafari of Tanzania and Kenyan Daniel Kitonyi are two entrants armed with some intriguing stats. Jafari has clocked 27:39.92 over 10,000m on the track and 1:00:41 for the half marathon, so seems capable of going much faster than his best of 2:11:55. Kitonyi meanwhile, who has a 10,000m best of 27:47.19, will be making his marathon debut.
Asuka Tanaka (2:10:13) and Shoya Osaki (2:10:48) are the two fastest Japanese in the field. Those performances were produced within the past 14 months, so are more indicative of their form than those of the more experienced Kering and Kiprop whose best came in earlier periods of their careers. Taiga Ito, who won the 2017 Nagano Marathon, is the third fastest among the Japanese. He’s run at this race every year from 2013 to 2017, which could be his advantage on Sunday.
Kipketer is the clear favourite on the women’s side. The 26-year-old has a marathon best of 2:23:02, set at the 2013 Amsterday Marathon, one of three occasions she’s dipped under the 2:25 barrier. The course record of 2:24:55, set by Elfenesh Alemu in 2000, could be within reach.
The fastest Japanese are Hiroko Yoshitomi with the best of 2:30:09 and Yumiko Kinoshita who has clocked 2:34.19. Another local runner to watch is Kaho Tanaka who will be making her second run over the distance. With a 10,000m best of 32:24.73, Tanaka could be able to run well under her 2:34:45 lifetime best.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Mekasha targets course record in Dongying
Organisers of the Yellow River Estuary International Marathon have assembled a deep field capable of breaking the men’s and women’s course records at the IAAF Gold Label road race in Dongying on Saturday (20).
Waganesh Mekasha is a serious title contender and arguably the most in-form woman on the entry list. The rising Ethiopian achieved a big personal best of 2:22:45 to finish fourth at Dubai Marathon in January. Since her first international marathon in Singapore in 2014, when she took the top honours in 2:46:54, the 27-year-old has improved her lifetime best each time in four races including her victories in Padua and Hengshui last year.
Should such momentum continue in the Chinese city of Dongying, Mekasha stands a good chance of breaking the course record of 2:24:45 set by two -time winner Letebrhan Haylay last year.
Caroline Cheptanui Kilel of Kenya is actually the fastest woman on paper, but her career best time of 2:22:34 was recorded back in 2013 when she took the victory in Frankfurt. After clocking 2:27:39 to win the Daegu Marathon in 2016, the 38-year-old hasn’t bettered 2:30 since. She competed in Dongying last year and finished fifth in 2:34:39.
Fellow Kenyan Agnes Kiprop is also returning to the familiar course following her fourth-place finish in 2017. The 39-year-old achieved her PB of 2:23:54 in 2011 and has maintained a high level of competitiveness, with her last victory coming two months ago in Hannover.
Afera Godfay is another runner whose PB is faster than the course record. Last year the 27-year-old Ethiopian trimmed nearly five minutes off her PB to take fourth place in Shanghai in 2:23:54.
A total of 10 runners lining up for the men’s race have a PB faster than the course record of 2:09:27. Marius Kimutai is the fastest entrant in the field with a PB of 2:05:47 set from his third-place finish at the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon. It will be his second race in the current season as the 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:10:37 to finish fourth in Chongqing last month.
Ethiopia’s Girmay Birhanu registered his PB of 2:05:49 when he finished third in Dubai back in 2014. The 32-year-old came close to that mark in the following year when he won the Daegu Marathon in 2:07:26, his last sub-2:10 run.
Slyvester Kimeli Teimet of Kenya will return to Dongying aiming to improve on his eighth-place finish from last year. The 2:06:49 performer ran his previous eight races in China but has yet to gain a victory.
Ethiopia’s Fikadu Kebede is another man to watch on Saturday. The former Rabat Marathon champion just improved his PB by 70 seconds to 2:08:27 in Dubai this season. Hicham Laqouahi of Morocco also bettered his PB in 2019, clocking 2:08:35 in Beppu two months ago.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF
Former champion Asefa returns to Yangzhou
Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa will return to the Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon on Sunday (21), aiming to retain the title she took from the 2017 edition of the IAAF Gold Label road race.
The 24-year-old landed a 1:10:30 victory at the scenic Chinese city two years ago after winning a duel against fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh in the final kilometre. After renewing her personal best to 1:07:54 with a victory in Milan last March, she failed to compete at her best level in Yangzhou last month and only finished ninth in 1:12:11.
While Asefa will be keen to bounce back and regain the top honours, she will meet great challenge in front of a loaded field.
Her compatriot Degitu Azimeraw could be the biggest threat. The 20-year-old showed great quality in just her first year in senior level, clocking 1:06:47 in her first international half marathon race last February and winning the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon with another sub-70-minute run last April. Two months ago, she improved her PB to 1:06:07 to finish fourth at the RAK Half Marathon.
Pauline Kamulu is another woman to watch. The Kenyan achieved a career best of 1:06:56 when taking bronze at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships last year. The 24-year-old bettered 70 minutes for the fifth straight time in March when she clocked 1:08:34 at the Bahrain Night Half Marathon.
With the absence of four-time defending champion Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia, who set the course record of 59:52 in 2015, Bahrain’s Abraham Cheroben, runner-up last year, is the highest returner with the fastest PB in the line-up. The 26-year-old will target nothing but the top place of the podium in his third consecutive appearance in Yangzhou.
Cheroben finished third in Yangzhou two years ago and set an Asian record of 58:40 in Copenhagen seven months later. Last year he gained a second-place finish in Yangzhou and took the silver medal at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia.
With lifetime best of 58:51 recorded in Copenhagen in 2017, Alex Korio is the second-fastest entrant. More recently the 28-year-old Kenyan clocked 1:01:11 to finish 14th in Ras Al Khaimah.
Shadrack Kimining, the third-place finisher last year, is another title contender. The 23-year-old Kenyan will not only enjoy the advantage of being familiar with the point-to-point course as it was his third straight year in Yangzhou, but also compete with great confidence after improving his PB to 59:42 two months ago.
The field also include Kenyan Wilfred Kimitei who clocked a PB of 59:40 last year as well as Berehanu Tsegu of Ethiopia, who stormed to 59:41 on his half marathon debut last month.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF