The 37th edition of the TCS Amsterdam Marathan, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, takes place this Sunday (21) in Amsterdam and boasts the appearance of newly crowned world half marathon champion Meseret Hailu.
At a pre-race press conference in the 1928 Olympic Stadium, where the race will start and finish, the big topic was the possibility of course records in both races. Getu Feleke is till now the fastest man on Amsterdam’s streets with 2:05:44, he clocked in the 2010 race, while Tiki Gelena of Ethiopia, who became Olympic marathon champion in London in August, set the a course record for women with a time of 2:22:08 last year.
A record number of 13,000 marathon runners from 82 countries, with another 25,000 in other distances, will start in dry, sunny weather in a temperature about 17 degrees C.
As in most marathons, Kenya has a string of fast runners. Wilson Chebet is the fastest man with a personal best of 2:05:27 which he clocked in April 2011 in Rotterdam.
"I am in a very good shape and I hope to break my personal best. And a personal best means I have broken the course record,'' said the 27-year-old with a broad smile.
Last year it was the second time that Chebet had run in Amsterdam. He debuted there in 2010 finishing second to Getu Feleke in 2:06:12. Chebet is a talented runner, who has run five half marathons each under one hour.
A strong opponent for Chebet will be his compatriot Peter Kirui. The 24-year-old made his name as a pacemaker for world record-holder Patrick Makau in Berlin in September 2011. A month later Kirui was also the pacemaker in the marathon of Frankfurt. He decided to finish there and clocked 2:06:31. "I am in a very good shape and my aim is to run a fast marathon. I can now run my own race," confirmed Kirui.
With fellow Kenyans Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (PB 2:05:52) and Henry Sugut (PB 2:06:58) also in the race, Amsterdam has assembled a high-quality starting line in the Olympic Stadium which will be the venue of the 2016 European Championships.
Other sub-2:10 starters are: Elias Kemboi (KEN, 2:07:04), David Barmasai (KEN, 2:07:18), Augustine Ronoh (KEN, 2:07:23), Gemechu Worku (ETH, 2:07:43), Shumi Dechasa (ETH, 2:07:56), Mulugetu Wami (ETH, 2:08:32), Kazuhiro Maeda (JPN, 2:08:38) and Abraham Tadesse (ERI, 2:09:24).
A dark horse in the race could be 20-year-old Ethiopian Atsede Tsegay who will run his first marathon. He has a half marathon of 58:47 under his belt, so far the quickest time in the world this year which he clocked in Prague in March.
Recently crowned world half-marathon champion Hailu, 22, is the leading name in the women’s field.
In January this year Hailu won the Egmond Half Marathon, and ran her personal best time for the full marathon in Prague this year, finishing third in 2:27:15.
Favourite in the women's race is however Caroline Kilel. The 31-year-old Kenyan is an expierenced marathon runner, winning the 2011 Boston Marathon in her personal best of 2:22:36.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF