Milan, ItalyA battle between Kenya and Tanzania will be the highlight of the 33rd edition of the Stramilano Half Marathon on Sunday 4 April.
The young runners from Tanzania, Fabiano Joseph and Martin Sulle, and John Korir Cheruiyot from Kenya, respectively second, third and fourth at last year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Vilamoura, will fight for the win on a flat course which has always produced fast times and great battles.
The Stramilano course still holds the World record over this distance set by the World Marathon record holder Paul Tergat (six times a winner at the Stramilano) on 4 April 1998 with 59:17. The Italian record was broken at the Stramilano too. It was Rachid Berradi, an Italian of Moroccan origin, who sensationally outkicked the Africans John Yuda and Charles Kamathi in 2002 to clock the national record with 1:00:20.
Tanzanians used race as springboard to 2003 success
The popular half marathon in Milan has always had a solid tradition for revealing a new generation of road runners.
Last year was no exception. The two rising stars Joseph and Sulle competed at the Stramilano and used the event as a springboard for their successful World Championships campaign last October in Vilamoura. Martin Sulle finished third at last year’s Stramilano with 1:01:33, behind his compatriot John Yuda and Patrick Ivuti (KEN). Fabiano Joseph was fourth in 1:01:34.
In Vilamoura, Joseph took a surprising silver medal in 1:00:52 behind the winner Martin Lel from Kenya. Sulle came in third place, four seconds adrift Joseph.
Joseph, who was born in 1985, boasts a good seventh place in the long course at the recent World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, and a PB of 27:32.63 in the 10,000 metres set at last year’s Memorial Van Damme Golden League meeting in the Belgian capital.
“I am happy to run in Milan over a very fascinating course where I hope to improve my PB on Sunday”, said Joseph at the pre-event press conference in Milan. The young Tanzanian will be wearing the bib number one this Sunday.
Korir’s challenge will be strong
However, John Korir is not to be written-off in the battle for victory on Sunday. The Kenyan finished fifth in the 10,000 metres in the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000 and fourth in Vilamoura with 1:01:02, and ran the 10,000 metres on the track in 26:52.87 at Brussels in 2002. More recently he was eleventh in the long course in the World Cross Country Championships in Brussels.
Other names to watch are the young Robert Kipchumba, a former World Junior champion in the 10,000 metres in Santiago de Chile 2000, who was seventh in his PB of 1:03:22 in the 2002 Stramilano and holds a 10,000 metres PB of 27:25.55 (Brussels 2001).
Then there is Ukrainian Vasyl Matviychuk, a former European Junior champion at the 10,000 metres and in the cross country in 2001. Also there is the Italian Massimo Vincenzo Modica, third in the 1998 European Championships in Budapest and second at the 1999 World Championships in Sevilla in the Marathon.
The line-up is completed by the Kenyans Mitei Enock Kipchirchir (PB 1:02:41 set in Lisbon) and Simon Kisinga Kilu (second at last year’s half marathon in Udine with his PB 1:01:32), and the Italian Giovanni Ruggero (PB 1:02:09).
Women make race return after 18 years
The women’s race, which makes its return to the Stramilano after 18 years, has a less impressive line-up.
This year’s female race is focused on the battle between Chantal Dallenbach, a 42-year-old road runner who holds joint French and Swiss citizenship (marathon PB 2:28:27) against the Italian runners Tiziana Alagia (PBs: 1:11:29 in the half marathon and 2:27:53 in the marathon both set in 2001), Patrizia Ritondo, second in the 2003 Italian marathon championships in Florence with her PB of 2:33:38, and Maria Cocchetti, winner at the 2002 Rome Marathon with 2:33:06.
Change to programme
The organizers of the Stramilano race have decided to return to the old model and have rejoined the elite competition with the mass start. The elite race has been moved from it’s usual Saturday start and will take place on Sunday after the popular non-competive event which annually attracts an impressive figure of 50,000 runners.
The 50,000 amateurs will start at 9.15 from Piazza Duomo and run 15km across the centre of Italy’s second city to finish in the Arena Civica Stadium. Two hours later it will be the turn of the top runners who will start at 11.30 from Piazza Castello, where the Castello Sforzesco is situated, and will then cross the finish line in the Arena Civica Stadium.