MonteCarloThe final entry deadline for the 14th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships passed by on 19 September (midnight Monaco time), and, except for the 2002 celebration in Brussels, this year’s championships which take place in Edmonton, Canada on 1 October have attracted the greatest ever number of IAAF Member Federations. In all 57 nations are seeking to send athletes to Canada, as opposed to the record of 60 who competed in the Belgium capital three years ago.
Edmonton literally marks the end of the road for this World Athletics Series event whose impressive history has been graced by three distinguished multiple individual title winners, Paul Tergat (1999/2000), Tegla Loroupe (1997/98/99), and Paula Radcliffe (2000/01/03). Other legendary distance runners, Haile Gebrselassie, Elana Meyer, Khalid Skah, Berhane Adere… to name but a few have also etched their names onto the World Half Marathon roll of honour over the past 13 editions of this global event.
Next year in its stead, in an exciting development for the sport, the IAAF World Road Running Championships will be inaugurated in the city of Debrecen, Hungary.
But first we can anticipate some exciting battles for the final half marathon honours in Edmonton. In total, US$140,000 (individual) and US$105,000 (team) is on offer in prize money from the IAAF, with $30,000 available for a win in both the individual races, graduating down through $15,000 for second and $10,000 for third…to $3000 for 6th position. There are also team awards on offer with $15,000 for first, $12,000 for second and $9000 for third places, descending to $3000 for the 6th best squad of three scoring runners, available in both the men’s and women’s races.
The history of the team contest has seen Romania (6) or Kenya (4) win all but three of the women’s races, with the inaugural battle in 1992 being taken by Japan, and Russia and Ethiopia triumphing in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
With the exception of an Italian victory in 1996, when they were led home by future Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini, the men’s team competition has been an entirely African affair with South Africa (1998/99), Ethiopia (2001) and Tanzania (2003) breaking up the otherwise Kenyan monopoly (8 wins in total).
Jamaica will achieve a 'first' with its first ever team entry to the Championships.
In total, 100 'out of competition' anti-doping tests are planned to take place before the Championships begin, with another 15 'in-competition' tests also to be carried out in Edmonton.
The World Half Marathon Championships are being held outside Europe for only the third time. They were contested in Veracruz, Mexico, in 2000, and New Delhi, India, last year, and now in Edmonton, Canada but otherwise they have always been held in Europe since 1992.
Chris Turner for the IAAF