The 11th edition of the International Monaco Marathon, known to the locals as the ‘Marathon de Monaco et des Riviera’ to denote the peculiar characteristic that it encompasses no fewer that three countries, will be held in the Mediterranean principality on Sunday 30 March.
Starting and finishing in Monaco, runners who will cover the 42.195km event will traverse the French towns of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and Menton and the Italian town of Ventimiglia for what is a truly international event.
For the first time since its introduction back in 1997, the Marathon course will also have a new starting point, the organisers having moved to the famously known boulevard Albert I, which is the same avenue that serves for the starting grid of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.
As expected, Africans will be holding the pole positions on the grid with representatives of Kenya and Ethiopia among the fastest entrants. With pacemakers James Bett Kipkemboi and Benjamin Bitok setting the tone, the course record of 2:11:26 set by Kenneth Cheruiyot back in 1999 may well be in danger.
Another contributing factor is the change of date; traditionally scheduled to prelude the World Athletics Gala at the end of November, the Monaco Marathon has now become part of the spring marathon season and organisers believe the famously pleasant weather of the French Riviera will benefit the elite runners.
Among a handful of Kenyan specialists, Patrick Chumba Kimeli and Henry Tarus are the ones expected to take on the challenge of 22-year-old Folisho Tum Tuko and 24-year-old Girmay Ayane Kidanu, the sole representatives for Ethiopia.
The Russian pair of Sergey Fedotov and Andrei Bryzgalov (third in 2005 and second in 2006) should also be capable to remain in the mix for the 4,500 winner’s prize money while both would need to improve on their personal best to attain the bonus 7,000 euros awarded to any runner breaking the 2:10:00 barrier.
Russians are also expected to feature in the front pack in the women’s race with a handful of elite specialists being led by experienced runners of the calibre of Jeanna Malkova and Maria Fedosseeva, who finished fifth in the last edition of this race.
They will have to work hard to remain in contest with 29-year-old Elizabeth Chemweno of Kenya, the fastest entrant in the field.
The start for the Monaco Marathon will be given at 9.30am while the 5th edition of the 10km mass race will be held along the streets of the Principality from 10.15am.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF