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Mutai, Komon and Ronoh to challenge title holder Kirui in Prague

Peter Kirui, winner of 2014 Sportismo Prague Half Marathon © / Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon

The Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon has made a name for itself among the leading half marathons in the world in recent years thanks to a series of super fast performances. Judged on the winning times for the Run Czech event in 2014, it was the best race for the distance anywhere in the world. The organisers are naturally keen to maintain this success for the latest edition of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon on March 28 in the Czech capital. A top-class field has been assembled, led by a handful of world-class Kenyans. While title holder Peter Kirui will face Geoffrey Mutai and Leonard Komon, the leading contenders in the women’s race are Edna Kiplagat and Lucy Kabuu. The Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Race, the highest category of road race.

“I believe we’ve assembled a very strong field,” said Jana Moberly, who is responsible for putting together the elite field in Prague. “At present we have seven runners with personal bests under one hour on the start list and nine women who have run faster than 70 minutes. But it’s very likely that we’ll have one or two additions,” explained Moberly, who hopes for a men’s winning time “very close to 59 minutes.”

Several runners look capable of achieving such a world-class time which is not far off the Prague course record of 58:47. One of them is definitely Peter Kirui. The 27-year-old Kenyan dominated the race last year to complete a surprise win in the top-class time of 59:22. On that occasion Kirui had the handicap of being in the middle of a training course with the Kenyan Police and unable to train properly. He will be free of such duties now and it will be fascinating to see if he can improve still further.

Another who caused a surprise in the 2014 Run Czech Running League was Geoffrey Ronoh. The 32-year-old triumphed firstly in the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon, where he was originally entered as a pacemaker but left marathon superstars Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto in his wake. A few weeks later the Kenyan also won the Birell Prague Grand Prix over 10 km in a course record of 27:28. Geoffrey Mutai was among those beaten. Mutai will again face Ronoh in Prague, whose best for the half marathon is 59:45. Mutai, known worldwide as a top marathon runner with victories in Boston, New York and Berlin, has a best of 58:58 which makes him the fastest man in the field.

Leonard Komon’s presence adds another big name to the field. The Kenyan is the world record holder for 10 and 15 km. A year ago he ran an extraordinary debut for the half marathon in Berlin, winning in 59:11, the fastest ever by a newcomer to the distance.

Four consecutive course records are proof of the enormous development which the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon has seen in the women’s performances in recent years. In 2014 Joyce Chepkirui brought the time down to 66:19 which was the fifth fastest ever run for the distance. Given that high standard, breaking the course record on March 28 will be no easy task. But with the presence of Lucy Kabuu, the race has a contender who has run faster than Chepkirui. Two years ago the Kenyan won the Ras Al Khaimah event in the United Arab Emirates in 66:09.

Among Kabuu’s rivals in the Czech capital will be Edna Kiplagat. The Kenyan, winner of the world marathon title in 2011 and 2013, has a personal best of 67:41. Last year Kiplagat won another of the half marathons in the Run Czech series, taking the title in Olomouc. Two more runners with best times under 68 minutes will be on the start line in Prague: Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya (67:47) and Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa (67:49).

Further information can be found online:


Calgary acclaims rightful winners after doping disqualification

Calgary Marathon is acclaiming three local running heroes who didn’t stand in their rightful podium place last summer. A ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), disqualified the results of the top finisher, Emily Chepkorir. Chepkorir previously tested positive for Nandrolone (an anabolic steroid) at races in Guatemala on 26 January and Mexico on 02 March; all subsequent results are disqualified and she is ineligible to compete until 5 April 2016.

The top three women have been alerted and have been properly compensated for their outstanding race day efforts with the rightful prize money. Maria Zambrano, of Calgary, is awarded 1st place, Nadine Mueller second and Andrea Glover third. Calgary Marathon has adjusted the 2014 results and applauds the IAAF for its diligence in its efforts to identify, investigate and disqualify athletes who are using banned substances. “We can adjust results and prize money but we can never give the rightful winners their moments of glory” said Calgary Marathon Society Chair, Dan Ouimet.

For a complete list of athletes currently serving a period of ineligibility as a result of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under IAAF Rules visit:

For the full Calgary statement, visit–media/breaking-news-female-marathon-winners-2014-.html

Kimetto smashes marathon record in Berlin

A new chapter in the marathon was opened with a magnificent flourish by Dennis Kimetto in Berlin on Sunday (September 28). In only his fifth race at the distance, the Kenyan smashed the 2:03 barrier, a year after his compatriot Wilson Kipsang had brought the world record down to 2:03:23 on the same course. Kimetto’s is the tenth world record on a course which makes full use of Berlin’s flat terrain and gentle corners. The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON is an IAAF Gold Label race and part of the World Marathon Majors Series.

Emmanuel Mutai finished second in 2:03:13, ten seconds inside the old record while Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma broke through to the marathon elite with third place in a personal best of 2:05:56.

Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye fulfilled her ambition of ascending to the top place on the podium as the 2012 Berlin runner-up took just over a minute off her personal best to win in 2:20:18, the fastest time in the world this year and nine seconds ahead of her training partner Feyse Tadese. Shalane Flanagan attacked early in the race and led through halfway, on course to break the American record, but faded to finish third in what was nonetheless her fastest ever time of 2:21:14.

Every leading finisher agreed that conditions could hardly have been better for the starting gun to set just over 40,000 on their way from the Avenue of June 17 at 8.45 am. Temperatures rose to around 15 Celsius while the elite were racing on a still and piercingly bright morning.

First of the favourites to drop off the pace was Tsegaye Kebede, the current leader in the World Marathon Majors Series. The diminutive Ethiopian was off the pace before 20km. A group of five avowed racers, led by a trio of pacemakers, went through halfway in 61:45, on target for an attack on Wilson Kipsang’s world record of 2:03:23.

The pace had slowed to some 15 seconds outside world record pace but memories were still fresh of how Wilson Kipsang had produced an extraordinary late surge 12 months ago. Dennis Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai showed they could match that and more, with this year’s World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor keeping them company as the leaders went past Am Wilden Eber, at 28 km, a section of the course where the massed spectators can be guaranteed to boost the adrenaline.

The clock showed 1:36:01 for 33km, right on world record schedule and even better was to follow. Kamworor had to yield to the torrid pace as Kimetto and Mutai ran 2:47 for the next kilometre. The 35km mark is so often critical in the marathon and this race proved no exception. The duo went through in 1:42:36, predicting a sub-2:03 finishing time by a margin of over 30 seconds.

Dennis Kimetto surged with just over 1:50 on the clock, Mutai could offer no response and the Wilson Kipsang’s world mark had a little over ten minutes left in the record books.

Although Kimetto showed signs of strain as he turned through the Brandenburg Gate and strode for the finishing line, he achieved the dream, taking 26 seconds off the world record. This was after having to drop out of the Boston Marathon in April because of a hamstring injury.

“I felt confident of breaking the world record today. During the race I felt good and believe I can improve it further. I’d like to return and try to break it again next year,” reflected Dennis Kimetto, who retained his relaxed composure as the hubbub erupted around him.

Emmanuel Mutai sliced 39 seconds off his best and was also inside the old world mark.

“I’m still happy with my performance. Dennis was just too strong for me after 30km today but I believe I could also break this new world record,” commentated Mutai.

Mutai had the consolation of at least breaking one world record today: he went through 30km in 1:27:37, improving by one second on Patrick Makau’s time in 2011 en route to his world record.

Abera Kuma proved a revelation in finishing third, achieving a massive personal best by almost four minutes. The Ethiopian has distinguished himself on the track, including 5th place in the 10,000m at the 2013 World Championships.

For much of the women’s race it seemed as if Shalane Flanagan’s aggressive running would be rewarded by breaking Deena Kastor’s American record of 2:19:36 as well as capturing the Berlin title. She went through halfway in 69:38. The Ethiopian trio of Tirfi Tsegaye, runner-up in Berlin two years ago, her training partner Feyse Tadese and Abebech Afewok, were 18 seconds adrift. But Tsegaye in particular had made a point before the race of saying she would run at her own pace and see if Flanagan would come back to them. The race ran to that script.

Just before 30km, Flanagan lost the lead as first Tsegaye and then Feyse overhauled the American. Flanagan’s hopes of the American record faded, as did her prospect of becoming the 19th women to break 2:20 in marathon history.

Tirfi Tsegaye went clear to improve her personal best by one minute, one second, setting the fastest time in the world this year with 2:20:18. Feyse Tadese also ran her fastest ever marathon and Shalane Flanagan at least had the consolation of becoming the second fastest US runner ever, having improved her best by four minutes this year with races in Boston and Berlin.

“I have to take stock, assess the race splits and reflect on how I can improve, whether it’s a question of training harder or becoming mentally stronger. I think I need to be stronger over the last 2km, I certainly learned that today,” reflected Shalane Flanagan.

While hopes for a North American record did not materialise there was a South American record in Berlin: Peru’s Ines Melchor clocked 2:26:48 in 8th place. She improved her own mark of 2:28:54 set in the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London.

Cherop to challenge Kebede in BMW Frankfurt Marathon

Sharon Cherop. Photo: Victah Sailer/PhotoRun

A showdown between Sharon Cherop and Aberu Kebede in the women’s race is likely to be one of the highlights of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon which celebrates its 33rd edition on 26th October. The 30 year-old Cherop from Kenya is a new addition to the women’s elite field which is led by Ethiopia’s Kebede. This latest talented arrival will ensure a quartet of women on the start list who have run between 2:20 and 2:23. 15,000 runners are expected to take part in Germany’s oldest marathon which is an IAAF Gold Label road race. In contrast to many other major marathons online entry for Frankfurt is still possible.

Aberu Kebede, the fastest woman on Frankfurt’s start list with a PB of 2:20:30, showed fine form last Sunday when she won the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 68:40. The winner of two Boston Marathon titles was an early confirmation for the latest edition of the marathon beside the river Main, but it looks as she will have her hands full coping with top-class rivals.

Sharon Cherop should provide a tough challenge for Aberu Kebede, who hopes to break 2:20 on the fast course in Frankfurt. The Kenyan was runner-up in last year’s Berlin Marathon, improving to 2:22:28. Cherop, who is married to 2:10 marathon runner Matthew Bowen, has proved she is a tough competitor time and again. Winning the Boston Marathon in 2012 has been her biggest success to-date and she also placed third in Boston in 2011 and 2013. Cherop is the marathon bronze medal winner from the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011. In an extraordinary strong women’s race in Boston she finished eighth this April with 2:23:00.

After a series of fine performances 2014 did not go according to plan for Flomena Chepchirchir. The Kenyan will be eager to regain her best form in Frankfurt on 26th October after dropping out of the Boston Marathon in April and then finishing as far down as tenth in the Prague Marathon a few weeks later. The 32 year-old Chepchirchir returns to familiar territory since it was in Frankfurt that she clocked her PB of 2:23:00 a year ago when she finishing second. In 2011 Chepchirchir ran her marathon debut in Frankfurt and also performed with distinction, finishing third in 2:24:21.

Prospects for a strong European performance are also high in Frankfurt as well: Russia’s Maria Konovalova is the fourth runner with a PB in the time range of up to 2:23. It was in Chicago 2013 at the age of 39 that she improved her personal record by slightly over a minute to 2:22:46. Now 40, Konovalova could attack the World Masters record which was set by Germany’s Irina Mikitenko a year ago in Berlin of 2:24:54. In March this year Konovalova won the Nagoya Marathon in 2:23:43 – a similar performance in Frankfurt could turn her into a World Master Record holder.

Makau will run in Trinidad Alfonso Valencia Half Marathon

Patrick Makau Musyoki (1985 Manyanzwani, Kenya) will be one of the great stars at the starting line of the Half Marathon Trinidad Alfonso Valencia. The ex World marathon record holder (2:03:38 -Berlin 2011) and sixth half marathon world record (Ras-Al-Khaimah 2009), will be at the starting line of the Valencia race, one of the most prominent names that the organization has prepared to achieve the fastest Marathon in Spain.

Paco Borao, president of the SD Correcaminos is satisfied at the same time optimistic about the participation of the Kenyan: “Makau has the opportunity in Valencia  to show their best qualities in the fastest half marathon circuit in Spain last three years”.

The Kenyan athlete hopes to arrive to Valencia in the best fitness of the season. The feelings are on this direction after his great race a month ago in the United States, where hi ran a 10k in 27:57. The confirmation of its presence in Valencia serves to complete a competitive elite board and consolidates Valencia on the Half Marathon TOP 10 in the world like last 3 years.

The presence of a runner like Patrick Makau in the streets of Valencia becomes a special incentive for Trinidad Alfonso Valencia Half Marathon already begins its countdown to October the 19th when the race will take place. The race now has over 7,000 registered participants, just at the last weeks of the final enrollment period, which will finish on October 5th.


Mutai takes on newcomer Ronoh in Prague

Picture: Birell Prague Grand Prix / Victah Sailer

Only a few weeks ago the Kenyan Geoffrey Ronoh made headlines when he beat world-class marathon stars Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto to win the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon even though he began the race as a pacemaker. He’ll soon be back for another big race in the RunCzech Running League when he lines up over 10 km against more big names from Kenyan athletics in the Birell Prague Grand Prix. Top of the list will be Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest marathon runner of all time. The Birell Prague Grand Prix is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, the top category of international road races.

In recruiting a top performer such as Geoffrey Mutai the RunCzech organisers have maintained their policy of bringing the cream of world class distance runners to the RunCzech Running League. The 32-year-old Mutai won the Boston Marathon in 2011 with a sensational performance, clocking 2:03:02. This remains the fastest ever time for the marathon. However, since the Boston course cannot be recognised as valid for record purposes, the time is not accepted as a world record. The Kenyan went on to prove that his Boston triumph was no flash in the pan, breaking the course record with 2:05:06 to win New York the same year. In 2012 he won Berlin with the fastest time in the world that year of 2:04:15 and the following year he achieved his second consecutive victory in New York.

“Running is in my blood,” Geoffrey Mutai once said. Even as a boy the sport fascinated him. He told the Kenyan Newspaper “The Nation” that when he was ten, he paid five Kenyan shillings to go with a friend to a nearby town and watch the 1992 Olympic Games on a black and white television. He started running in primary school and took part in school races from the age of 12. I was training every day, even at that age. I didn’t feel right if I didn’t run.”

The fastest marathoner of all time will be making his debut in a road race in the Czech Republic. Mutai’s best time for 10 km is 27:19, a world class performance but the race in Prague on September 6 will not be a stroll in the park for him, far from it. Among his rivals will be Geoffrey Ronoh, who began the Olomouc Half Marathon in June as a pacemaker for his friend and training partner Wilson Kipsang. The newcomer sprang a surprise, beating the marathon world record holder in a speedy 60:17. Jana Moberly, the RunCzech elite race co-ordinator, said before the half marathon that she told Ronoh to follow his friend Kipsang’s example. “I said to him, if you run as well as him, we’ll have you in our next race not as a pacemaker but as an elite runner.” With only one international race on his resume prior to Olomouc, a 2:15:51 marathon in Ahmedabad, India in 2013 it’s going to be fascinating to see what Geoffrey Ronoh can run for 10 km when he is back in Prague. His personal best is a less than stunning 28:16, although that was set en route to his half marathon win in Olomouc!

More about Birell Prague Grand Prix, 10K Race, adidas Women’s Race 5 km…


20th World Congress of AIMS

The 20th World Congress of AIMS was held in Durban (RSA) from 28–31 May 2014.

It was the first AIMS Congress to be held in Africa, and was hosted by the Comrades Marathon. The 89th edition of Comrades was held on the day following Congress.

The main theme of the Congress was ‘Africa as the home of distance runners’. Speakers included Luis Posso who has been instrumental in bringing African distance running talent to the fore for the last three decades.

Also scheduled to speak was Ibrahim Hussein, one of the first Kenyans to dominate big-city marathons, but he was unable to travel from Nairobi, where he is now Director of the IAAF Regional Development Centre, because of a holdup in issuing his visa to enter South Africa.

World renowned exercise physiologist Professor Tim Noakes spoke about some of the reasons behind the great African advance in distance running. Other speakers included Blanche Moila, Elana Meyer and Willie Mtolo.

At the 20th World Congress of AIMS members voted for the 21st Congress to be held in Quito, Ecuador on 2-4 June 2016. The host member is the Quito Últimas Noticias 15k.