Kenya’s running superstar Geoffrey Mutai will returns to the Lowertown Brewery Ottawa 10K on 24 May, but he will face arguably the strongest men’s and women’s road race fields ever assembled on Canadian soil, organisers of the IAAF Silver Label Road Race announced on Wednesday (23).
"This is the fastest 10k field ever assembled on Canadian soil,” said Manny Rodrigues, the Elite Athletes Coordinator. “I think it'll be a very exciting race to watch.”
The battle among the men promises to be an epic one.
Mutai is a two-time winner of the New York Marathon, the former Berlin Marathon champion, and is also the Boston Marathon course record holder. Earlier this month, he finished sixth at the 2014 London Marathon.
Lining up alongside Mutai will be his compatriot Wilson Kiprop, winner of the 2012 Kenyan Olympic 10,000m trials in 27:01.98, and the well-known Ethiopians Deriba Merga and Atsedu Tsegay.
“To be honest, I don't know much about this race,” commented Kiprop. “In the past years the date did not fit with my competition schedule, but I always checked the results when athletes I knew were running there. Considering the winners of the past editions, I understand it is a high quality race and I'm pleased to compete this year.
“I’ve known Geoffrey for a long time, he is a serious professional athlete and I'm confident he will recover from the London Marathon, ready to run a fast race in Ottawa. I have good memories of the competitions we have run in Kenya and abroad. I consider him a fair opponent. I'll be ready to challenge him.”
Merga, who won the Boston Marathon in 2009, is also the Ottawa 10K course record holder at 27:24 while the 24-year-old Tsegay has a superb half marathon best of 58:47.
The course record is certainly attainable, especially considering that when Merga set the record in 2009 he set out alone at the 3km mark. Indeed, he was on world record pace until the final third of the course when he faced a stiff headwind.
“I am excited to take on such great athletes (in Ottawa),” said Mutai. “I hope that all together we can push the race to be very fast and, God willing, the course record will fall and the organisers will be very happy with the race.”
“Deriba Merga likes to go very hard from the start. Geoffrey Mutai likes to follow the first the first few kilometres but really dictate the pace after that. Add in Wilson Kiprop, one the fastest Kenyans at 10,000m and you have a recipe for something in the record books,” added Rodrigues.
All in all, the men’s competition promises to be a thrilling follow-up to last year’s contest, which saw the top four men all finish under 28 minutes.
The race includes a ‘gender competition’ with the elite women given a head start of approximately for minutes and a US$4,000 bonus is given to whomever crosses the finish line first.
With the announcement that two-time London Marathon Champion Mary Keitany will be also joining the action in Ottawa, the star-studded men’s field will certainly get a run for their money.
Keitany’s 10km personal best of 30:45, recorded en-route to setting what was then a World half marathon record at the 2011 RAK Half Marathon, eclipses Mutai’s best of 27:19 when the head start is taken into account.
Challenging Keitany in the women’s race will be fellow Kenyans Caroline Kilel and Filomena Chepchirchir who finished first and second at the 2013 Frankfurt Marathon, and 24-year-old Ethiopian Yebrqual Melese who won last year’s Ethiopian 10,000m title.
“It'll be very exciting to see Mary Keitany can do against a strong field in her first race back (after the birth of her daughter in 2013),” said Rodrigues.
In the race for top Canadian, the newly minted national marathon record holder Lanni Marchant is back to take on friendly rival and teammate Krista Duchene, who also bested the long-standing Canadian women’s marathon record last year.
Marchant will be coming to Ottawa after finishing 14th, and the top Canadian woman, at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
On the men’s side, Kelly Wiebe, who was the top Canadian finisher last year in 29:22, will be joined by Canadian Olympian Dylan Wykes.
The Lowertown Brewery Ottawa 10K will take place on 24 May as part of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.
Organisers for the IAAF