The ABN-AMRO Rotterdam Marathon on 14 April, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, will feature six men who have gone under 2:06 for the classic distance and who will have the course record of 2:04:27 in their sights, organisers announced on Thursday (14).
The course record for the famous Dutch race, which has seen world records in the past, is jointly held by the Kenyan pair of Duncan Kibet and James Kwambai after their thrilling finish in 2009.
Fastest on paper in this year’s field is Ethiopia’s 19-year-old Berhanu Shiferaw. He clocked his personal best of 2:04:48 in January this year when finishing second in the Dubai Marathon.
Despite not turning 20 until 31 May, Rotterdam will be Shiferaw’s fifth Marathon.
Shiferaw will start alongside his compatriot Getu Feleke, who was second in the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon with a personal best time of 2:04:50.
Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku clocked a personal best of 2:05:25 when finishing third in Berlin in 2010 while only just slightly slower is the fourth in the quartet of outstanding Ethiopian runners, Tilahun Regassa, who ran 2:05:27 on his Marathon debut in the Chicago Marathon last October.
Kenya will also inevitably have some fast runners in the race.
Wilson Chebet has the same personal best as Regassa, set when winning in Rotterdam two years ago. The sixth man in the race to go under 2:06 in his career is fellow Kenyan Sammy Kitwara, who ran 2:05:54 when he finished fourth in Chicago last year.
Kipsang could surprise
However, everyone will also have their eyes on Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipsang, the 2011 IAAF World Cross country Championships junior men’s winner.
Kipsang ran 2:06:12 when finishing third on his Marathon debut at the 2012 Berlin race and won the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon last month in the very fast time of 58:54, the fastest of this year so far.
In addition, adding depth to an already impressive field, there is Ethiopia’s Assefa Bentayehu, who has a best of 2:06:22 when he finished third in the Amsterdam Marathon last year.
Interesting Marathon debutants who could also be a threat include Ethiopia’s Atsedu Tsegay and Kenya’s John Nzau Mwangangi.
Both men have excellent credentials in the Half Marathon. The 21-year-old Tsegay ran the fastest time over the distance when winning in Prague last year in an Ethiopian record of 58:47. Mwangangi has a personal best of 59:45.
Michel Butter is the leader of a large local contingent. Butter hopes to become the first Dutchman to break 2:10 in Rotterdam.
Butter set a Half Marathon personal best of 1:02:25 on a very cold and windy day at the ABN-AMRO City-Pier-City race in Den Haag recently.
The women’s race in Rotterdam has a strong domestic emphasis with the top two Dutch women Hilda Kibet and Miranda Boonstra both having been announced as starters in a race which has now reached its maximum of 12,500 entrants.
Win van Henert for the IAAF