28 SEP 2012 General News

Strong Half Marathon fields on tap in Lisbon

Silas Sang takes his third Half Marathon win in Lisbon (Marcelino Almeida)Silas Sang takes his third Half Marathon win in Lisbon (Marcelino Almeida) © Copyright
Lisbon, PortugalDefending champion Silas Sang and Olympic silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo will lead the fields at Sunday’s Rock n Roll Portugal Half Marathon in Lisbon.

The Kenyan veteran Sang, 34, is a two-time winner, and with his 1:00:20 performance from 2009, still the course record with his career best. He’ll have to tackle plenty of notable names at Sunday's IAAF Gold Label Road Race including one that is perhaps the most intriguing: Ethiopian Tariku Bekele. The 2012 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist and younger brother of double World record holder Kenenisa Bekele, will be making his debut over the distance.

Other key names include Kenyan Martin Lel, winner of New York City Marathon in 2003 and 2007, three-time London Marathon winner (2005, 2007 and 2008), and 2003 World Half Marathon champion, with a personal best of 59.56. His compatriot Titus Masai has strong credential as well, with a fifth place finish in 2012 Lisbon Half Marathon last spring and third place showing in the 2010 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon with his 59:51 personal best.

Eritrea comes armed with Yonas Kifle, the 2005 World Half Marathon bronze medallist, and Teklemarian Medhin, 2010 World Cross Country silver medallist who is also making his debut over the distance.

Other names to consider: Ethiopian Dino Sefir, second at the 2012 Dubai Marathon with a Half Marathon personal best of 59:42; Jacob Kintra, winner of the 2012 Stramilano Half Marathon (pb: 60:07); Zimbabwean Cuthbert Nyasango, seventh at the 2012 Olympic Marathon with a Half Marathon personal best of 60:26); and Uganda’s Martin Toroitich (pb: 1:01:06).

The European field includes Oleksandr Sitkovskyy, 12th in the 2012 Olympic Marathon with a 1:03:49 PB; Spaniard Ivan Galan (pb: 1:04:38); and Portuguese Manuel Damião, national road race and cross country champion (pb: 1:03:07) and Rui Pedro Silva, winner of Viana do Castelo Half Marathon (pb: 1:02:38).

Jeptoo returns to action – women’s race

The women field isn’t quite as deep but some of the athletes have great expectations on this course. The favorite is Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo, who returns to action after her silver medal finish in the Olympic Marathon (2:23:12). A strong performer in recent years, the 28-year-old was third at the London Marathon in April where she clocked 2:20:14 and also the silver medallist at the 2011 World Championships. She has a 1:10:26 personal best in the Half Marathon.

Her opposition includes Japanese Mizuki Noguchi, winner of the 2004 Olympic Marathon (2:26:20) along with several other international marathons, who has a personal best of 1:07:03 from 2006. Another Kenyan in the field, Margaret Muriuki, was third in the Lisbon Half Marathon last spring (1:09:21).

The Portuguese squad is lead by Ana Dulce Felix, the 2012 European 10,000m champion, fourth place finisher in the 2011 New York City Marathon, and second in the 2011 Lisbon spring Half Marathon (1:08:33). Other locals include Sara Moreira, the 2010 and 2012 European 5000m bronze medallist, with a personal best of 1:10:55 from the 2012 Douro Half Marathon (she also has a 1:10:08 from the Great North Run in 2010); and Leonor Carneiro who was third in the Oporto Half Marathon (1:13:33) a few weeks ago.

The course record belongs to Kenyan Mary Keitany who ran 1:07:53 last year.

The race is now part of the Rock n Roll series and has already achieved its first goal, with 20,000 runners registered for the event’s two races: the Half Marathon and 8Km Fun Run.

Antonio Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF