03 APR 2009 Preview 3 April 2009 – Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Against a loaded field, Makau ready for anticipated debut - Rotterdam Marathon preview

Patrick Makau winning the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon (Victah Sailer)Patrick Makau winning the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon (Victah Sailer) © Copyright

Rotterdam, The NetherlandsAlthough he has never run a full Marathon,  Patrick Makau will start as one of the favourites in Sunday’s  29th edition of the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon.

The Fortis Rotterdam Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

With eight sub-60 minute Half Marathons under his belt and experience on the very fast Rotterdam course where he finished second in 2007 (59:19) and won in 2008 (59:29), it is almost a simple case of logic that the soft-spoken Kenyan who just turned 24 is to be considered as one of the favourites on Sunday.

“In the preparation for Rotterdam I made my longer runs in training somewhat longer,” said Makau, who clocked 58:52, this year's fastest performance, to win the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February. “I did not change my speed training.”

Kwambai confident as well in Berlin follow-up

Makau will be in very good company in Rotterdam. Eleven of the male starters have personal Marathon bests under 2:10:00. The fastest in the field is Kenyan James Kwambai who ran 2:05:36 in Berlin last September where he finished second behind Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:03:59 World record. Kwambai said he is quite confident.

“I have run six marathons and know the distance. In the middle of November I started my training for this marathon and everything went fine. I know the course as I was a pace maker here in 2006.”

Kwambai’s training partner Duncan Kibet is also in the field. Kibet,who won the Milan marathon  in November with a personal best of 2:07:53, also confirmed that his preparation for Rotterdam went well.

Another contender is Kenyan Richard Limo who has fond memories of competing in The Netherlands. He ran his fastest Marathon (2:06:48) in 2007 in Amsterdam finishing second. A year ago he was fourth in Rotterdam in 2:08:43.

“I learned a lot from that race,: Limo said. “I know the course is very fast and I am well prepared.”

For Abel Kirui (PB 2:06:51) the Rotterdam course also has no secrets as he was pace maker here in the very warm 2007 edition. “I am confident about Sunday,” Kirui said. “My shape is very good.”

The third sub-2:07:00 runner in the race is William Kiplagat (2:06:50). The 36-year-old Kenyan was the Rotterdam winner in 2003 clocking 2:07:42. Joshua Chelanga (PB, 2:07:05) also has very good memories of Rotterdam. He won the  very warm 2007 edition in 2:08:21. He was a late entrant this year, replacing course record holder William Kipsang (2:05:39 last year) who had to withdraw due to sickness. “Although I heard late that I could start in Rotterdam, I am confident as I’ve trained for a marathon since January.”

Other sub-2:10 runners in the field include: Deressa Chimsa (ETH, 2:07:54), Jackson Kipkoech (KEN, 2:08:07),  Chala Dechase (ETH, 2:08:31), Mariko Kipchumba (KEN, 2:09:03) and Mesfin Ademasu (ETH,  2:09:49).

The plan for the race is well prepared, Race Director Eric Brommert said during a pre-race press conference on Thursday. “We will start with seven pace makers who all have run the half marathon under one hour. The plan is to keep the whole group, including the pace makers, together under 30 kilometres, which we will reach in 1:29:00. Then everybody can go for his chance. At 30 kilometres we are in the Kralingse Bos (Kralingen Wood) were the course is a little down hill. Then the race is really on!”

Cheromei the one to watch in the women’s race

The women’s field is not as deep as the men’s. The hot favorite is 31-year-old Kenyan Lydia Cheromei, who ran a personal best of 2:25:57 in Amsterdam last October. Some weeks before she won the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon in a then-personal best of  1:08:35.

“I hope to break my marathon personal best time,” Cheromei said. “I know the course is very fast and my preparation went very well.”

Also well prepared in Adriana Pirtea. The 27-year-old Romanian (PB 2:28:52) said she learned a lot from her experience in Chicago two years ago where she was jubilant over an impending victory only to be overtaken by Berhane Adere just before the finish line.

“It will never happen again,” she said. “I learned a lot from that mistake. I have had very good preparation for Rotterdam. My training was more quiet.”

Other contenders are Russian Nailya Yulmanova (2:30:17) and Sue Harrison of Great Britain (2:36:13). 

The weather forecast for Sunday (starting time 11.00) is very good, with temperatures expected to be about 12 C. With little wind and little sunshine. 11,367 runners have entered the marathon, 17 per cent of them women.

Wim van Hemert for the IAAF