Alemitu Abera lowered the Houston Marathon record to 2:23:14 (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
Among those scheduled to race at the prestigious all-female 5Km race include the course record holder, the defending champion, a three-time winner, a young Kenyan phenomenon making her Freihofer’s debut, and a slew of other elite international runners eager to take on the U.S. field for the $10,000 first-place prize.
With such big names involved, it could very well be anyone’s race this year.
Ethiopian Mamitu Daska, 28, has made the Freihofer’s podium every year she’s raced, winning it for the first time last year (15:19). She is fresh off victories at the Bay to Breakers 12K (39:02.4) and 2012 Bloomsday Run 12K (38:26). Emily Chebet, 26, from Kenya, set the Freihofer’s Run course record in 2010 with a time of 15:12 beating the previous record by seven seconds. She recently placed fourth at the World’s Best 10K and third at the African Cross County Championships.
Chebet and Daska face a serious challenge in the form of Joyce Chepkirui, a 23-year-old Kenyan who boasts a 15:08 5K personal best and has won almost every race she’s entered this year. This includes the Prague Half Marathon (1:07:02), the African Cross Country Championships and the Kenyan Cross Country Championships. Chepkirui also placed second at the World’s Best 10K (31:09).
Benita Willis, 33, who earned three Freihofer's titles between 2006-2008 — only the third woman to accomplish that feat — is looking to reassert herself on this famed course after three years finishing off the podium. The three-time Australian Olympian (2008 Marathon, 2004 10,000m and 2000 5,000m), who will represent her nation in the marathon at the London 2012 Olympics, has a proven track record (14:47 at 5000m) and is showing strong form in 2012. Last Saturday she finished eighth in the BUPA Great Manchester Run 10K (33:35).
Toeing the line next to Willis for the first time will be compatriot Lara Tamsett, 24, who recently ran to eighth place at the Carlsbad 5000 in 15:52. Tamsett, whose 5K personal best is 15:28, has climbed to the top of the Australian rankings over the last three years.
"It is tremendous to have a three-time winner, last year's winner, and the course record holder all competing in 2012," said Professional Athlete Recruiter John Tope. "With the talent of the international field and the strength of the U.S. field, it could be a special day of running on June second."
Four strong African runners who, like Chepkirui, are eager to make an impact in their Freihofer’s debut, round out the international field. Alemitu Abera, 26, from Ethiopia, has proven herself a considerable threat at long distances, having won both the 2012 Daegu Marathon and 2012 Houston Marathon. It remains to be seen how her endurance training will fare on a 5000m course, though she holds a 32:46 10K personal record. Abera’s countrywoman, Ashu Kasim, 27, is riding high off a first place finish at the 2012 Xiamen Marathon in China with a time of 2:23:09, which beat her own personal record by three minutes.
As for the Kenyan contingent, it includes Genoveva Kigen and Risper Gesabwa. Kigen, 30, won the 2012 Crescent City Classic 10K (32:12) and placed fourth at the recent Bloomsday Run 12K (39:55). Gesabwa, 23, is fresh off of winning the 2012 LA Half Marathon (1:14:37) and placed second at both the 2012 Pittsburgh Half Marathon and 2012 ING Georgia Half Marathon.
Organisers for the IAAF