A total of thirteen men who will line-up to contest the third edition of the RAK Half Marathon on Friday 20 February have broken the much respected one hour barrier.
The RAK Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road race.
Just two years ago, in the inaugural staging of the event, Kenya’s now Olympic Marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru raced to a 58:53 clocking, and this year, the course has been adjusted slightly to make it faster still and the prize money increased yet further.
After winning in 59:35 with a dip for the line in the 2008 event, 23 year-old Patrick Makau of Kenya is back to defend his title. Since winning the Rotterdam half marathon in 59:29 last September, Makau has gained a second consecutive silver medal in the World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janeiro last October.
Makau, who has now broken the 60 minute barrier six times, will find retaining his RAK title very hard however. He is up against Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga, the Olympic Marathon fourth placer, who recently won the Delhi Half Marathon in 59:15, equal fastest time of the year. Wilson Kipsang (KEN), with 59:16 for second in Delhi, and Abel Kirui (2:06:51 for 2nd in Berlin Marathon 2007) will present a huge challenge in what promises to be the greatest in-depth half marathon in history.
The women’s race too, will be of the highest calibre with Kenya’s 22-year-old Philes Ongori, this world’s fastest at the distance this year (67:57 in Marugame last February) heading the list.
Nine other starters have bests of under 70 minutes, including Aselefech Mergia (ETH), who won the Delhi Half Marathon in 68:17 less than eight weeks ago. Other challengers include Kenyans Julia Mombi Muraga (68:31 in 2008) and this year’s Paris Marathon winner Martha Komu.
Kenya’s evergreen Edith Masai, at 41 years old, is the fastest in the field, her 67:16 best coming just two years ago in Berlin. Her inclusion ensures a heady mix of youth and experience and surely another very fast race.
Greg Fairlie for the IAAF