09 NOV 2012 Preview Istanbul, Turkey

Abera set to defend Istanbul title

Alemitu Abera takes the Eurasia Marathon title in Istanbul clocking 2:27:56 (H. Emre Durmus)Alemitu Abera takes the Eurasia Marathon title in Istanbul clocking 2:27:56 (H. Emre Durmus) © Copyright

9 November 2012 - Course record holder Alemitu Abera from Ethiopia will return to defend her title at 34th Vodafone Istanbul Eurasia Marathon on Sunday (11).

Organisers have attracted a solid elite field to this IAAF Gold Label Road Race, four of whom have season bests faster than Istanbul’s current course records.

A refreshing shower with temperatures of 14 C at the 09:00 start is expected, followed by partly sunny dry conditions with the mercury reaching 16 C by noon. If the weather doesn’t confuse the runners, they will target the course records – Kenyan Vincent Kiplagat’s 2:10:39 in the men’s race and Ethiopian Ashu Kasim’s 2:27:25 in the women’s – that were set in 2010.

Women’s race –

The women’s elite field of 13 includes runners from Ethiopia, Ukraine, Hungary, Russia Kazakhstan and Lithuania, along with four domestic runners. The race promises to be interesting and competitive this year, with three entrants arriving with season’s bests well under the current course record.

The 26-year-old Abera, the defending champion, set a personal best of 2:23:14 at the Houston Marathon in January. Ukrainian Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko, 29, set her 2:24:32 PB at the London Olympics while Turk Sultan Haydar, 25, clocked a 2:25:09 PB in Paris.

They can expect tough competition from two more Ethiopians: Koren Jelela and Amane Gobena. Jelala, 25, has a 2:22:43 PB from last year’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon and clocked 2:28:05 at this year’s London Marathon while Gobena, 30, has a 2:24:13 to her credit from the 2010 Seoul International Marathon.

Others to watch include Rasa Drazdauskaite, 31, from Lithuania, with personal best 2:29:29 set at the London Olympics and Hungary’s Aniko Kalovics, 35, with PBs of 2:29:04 set Rome in 2008. The field also includes two debutants from Russia: Olesya Syreva, 28, who set PBs of 1:06:43 over 20 km in New York in March 2011 and 1:09:38 winning time in 2008 Novosibirsk Half Marathon; and Yekaterina Skripnikova, 28 with a more modest 1:15:59 Half Marathon PB set this year in Moscow.

Local eyes will also focus on Methap Sizmaz, 33, with a 2:31:13 PB from the 2006 Istanbul Marathon and 2:36:35 SB from Rotterdam, and Ummu Kiraz, 30, who clocked 2:36:17 in this race last year.

Men’s race –

The focus in the men’s race will fall on runners from Kenya, Qatar, Ethiopia and Spain. Just one has a season’s best better that the course record - Ethiopian Megersa Bacha, 26, who clocked 2:09:56 in May’s Hannover Marathon, about a minute off of his PB 2:08:55 set in Turin last year. That leaves him little chance to experience competition from other runners who could help him maintain a pace targeted at the course record, if he chooses to attack it.

Bacha’s rivals will include Kenyans Stephen Chebogut, 28, with a 2:08:02 PB set at the Paris Marathon 2011 and Evans Kiplagat, 24, with a 2:09:22 career best from the Vienna Marathon 2011. More recently Kiplagat clocked 58:15 over 20 km in Paris in October.

Others to watch include Qatar’s Nicholas Kemboi, 28, with a 2:08:01 PB from last year’s Valencia Marathon and 1:01:07 PB set in Valencia Half Marathon in October 2011, and 34-year-old Spaniard Carles Castillejo who has a 2:10:09 to his credit from the 2011 Castellon Marathon.

Among the Turkish entrants, the fastest is Sabri Kara, 29, who clocked 2:22:01 in this race last year.

They will be assisted by pacemakers David Rutoh and Kiprotich Yegon from Kenya and Ethiopia’s Kedir Namo.

In all events, organisers are expecting a field of 10,428 runners from 88 countries. 3174 are registered for the Marathon, 4889 for the 15 km race, and 2365 for the 8 km run. All are scheduled to start at 09:00.

The Marathon winners will each receive $USD 50,000 and winners of the 15 km race $4000 each.  

As in previous years the Marathon will connect two continents, Europe and Asia. It starts on the Asian side, crossing the Bosporus and Golden Horn Bridges, passes under the Aqueduct and follow the Marmara Sea beach, to the finish line on the European side at the Hippodrome, one of the oldest race tracks in the world, situated in the historical district of Sultanahmet which attracts visotors from from all over the world with its ancient monuments and mosques.

Yelena Kurdyumova and Sergey Porada for the IAAF

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