The Hague, The NetherlandsWith Haile Gebrselassie and Catherine Ndereba in the field, Saturday’s (14) 35th Fortis City-Pier-City Half Marathon in The Hague can boast a pair of the world’s biggest road racing stars.
It was on this course two years ago that Sammy Wanjiru set the current World record of 58:33, and while he’s making no promises, Gebrselassie confirmed that he’s well prepared for the fast course.
“I know that the course here is very fast,” Gebrselassie said. “I lost my record to Samuel Wanjiru in February 2007. He then bettered it again here in The Hague.”
“I know the world record Wanjiru set here is very fast,” Gebrselassie continued. “After my marathon victory in Dubai (16 Jan), where it was impossible to break my world record of 2:03:59, I have been preparing for this race. I hope it will be a fast race.”
Despite the rainy and windy conditions, the legendary Ethiopian clocked 2:05:29 at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
For Ndereba Saturday’s race will mark a return The Hague. The Olympic Marathon silver medallist and reigning World champion knows the course well, having set her personal best of 1:07:54 here eight years ago.
“I could have chosen lots of races for this weekend but I preferred this one,” Ndebera said. Although the Kenyan will celebrate her 37th birthday this year, she still hopes to race for several more years. “As long as a feel healthy I want to race. I hope to do a fast race this Saturday.”
Ndereba is the fastest women in the field. Her fastest opponent is Kenyan Pauline Wangui, with a PB of 1:09:49 to her credit. Wangui is racing for the second time in a week in The Netherlands. Last Sunday she battled fierce winds to win the AD Twintig van Alphen 20Km in 1:06.39.
The strongest opposition for Gebrselassie is expected from Sammy Kitwara of Kenya. The winner of this year’s ‘World’s Best 10K’ in San Juan has a personal best of 1:00.54. Kitwara’s manager, Frans Denissen, said Thursday that Kitwara, who is in very good shape, hopes to join the event’s exclusive sub-60 exclusive “club”.
A dark horse in the race is Kenyan Hillary Kimaiyo. Other men on the start list include: Martin Fagan of Ireland; Kenyans Philimon Terer, Gilbert Okari, and Gilbert Chepkwony; and Ethiopians Dereje Tesfaye and Getu Feleke. Earlier, the start list included American Ryan Hall, but he withdrew not wanting to endanger his marathon start in Boston next month.
The forecast calls for temperatures of about 10 C. with a slight chance of rain.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF