The Mattoni Ceske Budejovice Half Marathon won’t be short of leading athletes as world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kipsang will compete alongside course record-holder Daniel Chebii at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on 7 June.
At the tender age of 21, Kipsang won this year’s world half marathon title in Copenhagen, three years after winning the world junior cross-country title.
He hails from the Rift Valley, birthplace to some of the best long-distance runners on the planet and has garnered fantastic results over a short space of time, including a 2:06:12 PB in the marathon and a 58:54 best for the half marathon, set when winning in Ras Al Khaimah last year.
“Now I want to run a world record,” said Kipsang, one of few men to have defeated half marathon world record-holder Zersenay Tadese in the Eritrean’s best distance over the past decade. “I’m mentally prepared, that’s the main thing. It’s not a problem if you have that.”
Kipsang trains alongside world and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda. “He really inspires me and I know I’m now capable of running in under 2:06 in the autumn,” he adds.
“He wants to take advantage of his good shape here and improve the race record which stands at less than one hour,” says Jana Moberly, manager of elite athletes for the RunCzech Running League.
Kipsang will be helped out by other more experienced Kenyan runners, Daniel Chebii and Daniel Wanjiru, both of whom have managed to break the one-hour barrier.
Chebii put in a great performance at the first ever Ceske Budejovice race held two years ago, scooping up a victory with a personal best of 59:49.
Wanjiru celebrated his 21st birthday last year with a triumph at the Karlovy Vary Half Marathon. He trains a lot at high Alpine altitudes in Austria where he is managed by Thomas Krejci. On arriving in the Alps, he proceeded to build his own house and begin rearing goats for milk. “I use the money I earn to support my family at home,” he explains.
He made a significant improvement to his personal best time this April in Prague, clocking 59:59, and will soon be looking to make his marathon debut.
The favourites for the women’s race include former Paris Half Marathon winner Pauline Njeri, who has a PB of 1:07:55, and 23-year-old Ethiopian Betelhem Moges, who has a good record of competing in the Czech Republic. She won the Usti nad Labem Half Marathon in 2012 and the Olomouc Half Marathon in 2013. This year she set a PB of 1:10:37 at the Prague Half Marathon.
“In its first race year, Daniel Chebii proved how fast the Mattoni Ceske Budejovice Half Marathon course can be run,” said Carlo Capalbo, president of the organising committee. “Such a jam-packed start line promises to deliver some interesting results and we can certainly expect Ceske Budejovice being spoken about throughout the athletics world. This is not only important for Ceske Budejovice but for Czech sport as a whole.”
Organisers for the IAAF