Preview Bogota, Colombia

Belaynesh Oljira leads strong field at Bogota’s Carrera de la Mujer

Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira on the podium at the 2013 IAAF World Championships (Getty Images)Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira on the podium at the 2013 IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright

Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira heads a strong field of runners for the seventh edition of the Carrera de la Mujer de Bogotá (Bogota’s Women’s race), an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (29).

The 12km race is solely for women and will take place over a 4km loop in the Colombian capital’s Parque Simón Bolívar.

Part of the revenue will be dedicated to support campaigns, such as Liga Colombiana Contra el Cáncer, an organisation that fights cancer among women. Around 17,000 runners are expected to take part of the events, which include races from 2km to 12km for various age groups.

Oljira, 23, comes to Bogota after the best year of her career. She finished third at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz back in March and earned a bronze medal over 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow last month.

She has run 30:31.44 over 25 laps of the track to stand fourth in the world on time this year. Oljira also set a personal best at the Marathon with her 2:25:01 time in Dubai at the start of the year.

The 2625m altitude of Bogata will be one of Oljira’s main challenges. Besides that geographical factor, the Ethiopian runner will face rivals including her compatriots Zemzem Ahmed and Hiwot Ayalew, the USA’s Janet Bawcom, Poland’s Karolina Jarzynska, Morocco’s Malika Asahssah, Mexico’s Madai Perez, and the Kenyan pair of Paskalia Kipkoech and Sylvia Kibet.

Ahmed, 28, was seventh at the 2008 Olympic Games in the 3000m Steeplechase and won over the barriers at the African Championships that year but is now concentrating on road racing.

Ayalew, 23, is a talented performer on all surfaces. She was second at the World Cross Country Championships this year and placed fourth at the 2013 World Championships in the 3000m Steeplechase. On the roads she registered a second place in the New Orleans 10km with a 32:05 personal best and had a victory at the famous Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston.

Bawcom, now 35, was 12th at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her best performance of the season was her victory at the US 15km National Championships with 49:44.

Jarzynska, 32, is also enjoying a good campaign. She was 15th in the 10,000m in Moscow and set a 31:43.51 national record in Ostrava. She also set a 2:26:45 personal best when winning the Lodz Marathon in April.

The 30-year-old Asahssah can look back on a victory in Ottawa’s famous 10km race in May and ran her 69:11 Half-marathon personal best in the Rome-Ostia race in March.

Perez comes to Bogota in a positive mood after her seventh place in the Marathon at the World Championships and, coincidently, she also placed seventh at the Boston Marathon.

Kipkoech, 24, was the silver medallist at the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and has plenty of experience in South America, where she achieved her personal bests over 10km (30:57 at Santos, Brazil, on 20 May 2012) and Half-marathon (67:17 at Rio de Janeiro on 19 August 2012).

Kibet, 29, will bring to Bogota her illustrious pedigree of two 5000m silver medals at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.

Erika Abril, Carolina Tabares, Yolanda Fernandez and Angela Figueroa will head the Colombian challenge. Abril is the Marathon national record holder while Tabares is the 2013 South American 5000m champion. Fernandez has been the best Colombian runner at the past two editions of this race and Figueroa is the 3000m Steeplechase national record holder.

Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF