02 SEP 2009 General News Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Olympic marathon champion Wanjiru to run in Rotterdam

Samuel Wanjiru becomes the first Kenyan man to win an Olympic marathon title (Getty Images)Samuel Wanjiru becomes the first Kenyan man to win an Olympic marathon title (Getty Images) © Copyright

Samuel Wanjiru, the Olympic marathon champion and World record holder for the Half Marathon, is the top attraction of the sixth edition of the Fortis Half Marathon Rotterdam on Sunday 13 September.

The 22-year-old Kenyan athlete, who won the London Marathon last April, knows the proven very fast, flat course in Rotterdam very well. He won the race in Rotterdam on 11 September 2005 in 59:16, still the fastest ever time by a junior.

Two years later on 17 March Wanjiru set the existing World record for the half marathon in the Fortis City-Pier-City race in The Hague clocking 58:33. In his career the East African has run the half marathon six times within one hour.

Wanjiru will face strong opposition in Rotterdam. The organisers have contracted another five athletes with personal bests under sixty minutes. Most dangerous of them looks to be Kenyan Sammy Kitwara. The also 22-year-old scored an impressive victory this year in The Hague on 14 March. On the same course where Wanjiru set the World record Kiwara clocked 59:47 beating the famous Haile Gebrselassie into second place.

Bernard Kipyego is also a dangerous opponent. The 23-year-old won the Vattenfall Half Marathon of Berlin on 5 April this year in a personal best of 59:34, while two other Kenyans John Kiprotich and Charles Munyeki both have a personal best of 59:44. Kiprotich clocked that time on 28 September last year in Udine, Italy fnishing second. Munyeki’s personal best dates from 14 September last year when he finished fifth in Rotterdam.

The sixth athlete sub 60 minutes is the 19-year-old Ethiopian Tilahun Regassa, who has a personal best of 59:36 from winning the half marathon in Lille, France, on 6 September 2008.

Wim van Hemert for the IAAF