MonteCarloWith only a few days to go until the 14th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Canada, 1 October - the last IAAF World Athletics Series event of 2005 - the focus of the World Rankings has now switched to Road Running.
So far both Helsinki champions, Jaouad Gharib (MAR) and Paula Radcliffe (GBR) are respectively leading the men’s and women’s Event Rankings, but can their positions be challenged this weekend? Although both men's and women's fields in Edmonton look strong, Radcliffe is virtually unbeatable with her points, but the Moroccan could well be dethroned.
**UPDATE - Wed 29/09 - Kebenei has pulled out injured**
Wilson Kiprotich Kebenei (KEN) who had the best chance to grab the lead. The 25-year-old Kenyan, currently 3rd in the Ranking, has to win the competition with 63:07 to jump to the top. Should he cross the line in 2nd place, then the time required is 62:23, while for 3rd place 61:54 is what he needs. With a personal best of 60:11 on a regular course in Milan - and 59:27 on a slightly downhill course in Lisbon, both from this year - it looks to be an easy job, but do not forget the tough opposition he will face from Sileshi Sihine.
However, another challenger Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea has today withdrawn from the Championships with a back injury following his incredibly fast clocking at the Great North Run just over a week ago.
Kebenei’s teammate Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul has an impressive personal best of 60:15, set just three weeks ago in Rotterdam, and may also overtake Gharib for the first place. To achieve this, apart from the necessary win, he should finish the race in 60:41 beating Kebenei by at least 1:45 minutes or 5 places on the finish line. Regardless of his result, by finishing the race, Kimugul will be back in the Ranking.
Fabiano Joseph is currently laying in the 10th position. The young Tanzanian, who was second in the last two editions of the World Half Marathon Championships, has the weakest chance among these three athletes to became number one - he must not only win the World Championship but has to set a new World Record to rise to the top.
On the women's side the battle is on only for the 2nd and 3rd places. The 2nd spot is currently occupied by Constantina Dita-Tomescu, who will of course strengthen the field along with Ethiopian Derartu Tulu, ranked 5th and Susan Chepkemei of Kenya, who is in 7th position at the moment.
Returning to the city where she became World 10,000m champion in 2001, Tulu has already set her sights on capturing yet another gold medal in Canada. If Tulu succeeds with 68:44 minutes on the clock, she could overtake Dita-Tomescu for the 2nd spot, given that she beats the Romanian by at least 1:43 minutes or if Dita-Tomescu misses the podium.
Susan Chepkemei has three silver medals at this Championship already. If the Kenyan finally takes gold and runs 69:36, it would lift her to 3rd position in the Ranking, while the 2nd spot is just about out of reach for her. Only bettering Elana Meyer's World record of 66:44 could help the Kenyan rise above 3rd place.
Of course it is Constantina Dita-Tomescu of Romania who can deny everybody 2nd spot, and she is the only athlete in the field - both in men's and women's - who has a slight chance to reach even the Overall Top-10 as well. After being 5th and 3rd in the previous two editions, with a win in 66:53 on the clock, she could join Christine Arron in the 10th place in the Women's Overall Ranking.
Andras Szabo for the IAAF