MonteCarloEritrea’s Zersenay Tadese and Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands have won the men’s and women’s World Road Running Championship titles in the last two years. While the name of this IAAF World Athletics Series competition has this year reverted back to its previous title of the World Half Marathon Championships, these two runners will be the defending champions in all but name in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, on Sunday 12 October 2008.
Next month’s IAAF/CAIXA World Half Marathon Championships 2008 will be the third time that Brazil has hosted a World Athletics Series competition. The city of Manaus held the World Road Relay Championships in April 1998. A decade early Rio had been the host city for the World 15km Road Race for Women which was held in September of 1989. That event, which was staged for nine editions from 1983 to 1991, was a precursor of the World Half Marathon Championships which were first run in 1992.
If Brazil is familiar with the staging of global road running events, then Kiplagat and Tadese are just as comfortable winning World titles both on and off the tarmac. These Dutch and Eritrean runners have taken World Cross Country titles in recent years, as well as their victories on the roads in Debrecen (2006) over 20km and Udine (2007) at the half marathon distance.
While results this year in Beijing and Berlin have very much proved the athletes who are in global control at the full marathon distance, at championship events over half the distance Kiplagat and Tadese’s stars remain in the ascendant.
In the team standings Kenya has been as dominant, having taken the men’s and women’s road running titles in the last two years. By fielding weighty squads of talent which include the men’s silver and women’s bronze medallists from last year respectively Patrick Makau Musyoki and Pamela Chepchumba, they have also indicated their intent to keep to the gold standard in Rio.
Chris Turner for the IAAF