Elite racers competing for first place at the 2010 Ottawa Race Weekend 10K road race will be pacing themselves to smash the world record of 27:01 minutes set by Micah Kogo of Kenya in March 2009. Their incentive is an unclaimed prize of $100,000 offered by ORW organizers in 2009.
Saturday's (29) Ottawa 10K and Sunday's Ottawa Marathon are IAAF Silver Label Road Races.
Merga leads the men's chase, Tune the women's
Deriba Merga of Ethiopia will return for a second shot at the record and the purse. He comes to Ottawa on the heels of a third place finish (2:08:39) in the Boston Marathon in April. In 2009 he won the fabled race.
“Last year in Ottawa I beat the 8K world best with a time of 21:48,” says Merga. “I want to come back and see if I can do the same on the 10K distance.”
Other serious contenders include Ahmed Baday of Morocco and Dereje Tadesse Raya from Ethiopia.
“Having elite athletes contending for the world record makes it a much more exciting event both for recreational runners and spectators alike,” says Manny Rodrigues, Elite Athlete Coordinator, Run Ottawa. “This might be the year Ottawa makes history.”
Ethiopians could sweep both men and women’s categories if Deriba Merga wins again and is joined on the podium either by Dire Tune, considered to be top contender, or Emebet Bacha Bencho, the 2008 race winner.
The current women’s 10K world record is 30:21 set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003. Tune, whose personal best 10K time is 31:40, will be looking to break that record. She won the Boston marathon in 2008 and came in 2nd in 2009.
Canadian women also have a shot at first place. Danette Doetzel from Halifax and Ottawa’s Rebecca Stallwood will be the two women to watch on May 28.
New faces in line-up with seasoned racers in Marathon
He’s a familiar face on the Ottawa race scene, but Kenyan David Cheriuyot at age 40 and with four Ottawa wins under his belt could triumph over men as much as 20 years younger at the Sunday's Ottawa Marathon.
This year Cheriuyot will have his hands full. His race winning time of 2:13:23 in 2009 may not be enough to hold off the stiff elite-level competition registered to keep him from a coveted fifth title.
“I have seen the list of competitors for the marathon this year and know it’s going to be tough to win,” says Cheriuyot, “but I’m confident of my chances to win a fifth time.”
“We should see a marathon record set on Canadian soil right here in Ottawa this year,” says Manny Rodrigues, Elite Athlete Coordinator, Run Ottawa.
Rodrigues refers to 19-year-old Ethiopian Bazu Worku, currently the holder of the World junior best over the distance with a time of 2:06:15. This is the first time a sub-2:07 marathoner has lined up for the Ottawa race.
Also competing is fellow Ethiopian Teferi Wodajo, 28, who posted a 2:07:45 marathon time last fall. Wodajo will square off against Japanese Arata Fujiwara, 28, who beat him at the Tokyo Marathon in February and Kenyan Philip Manyim, 32, who has a 2:07:41 personal best.
Canada’s Kortchaguina faces strong talent in women’s field
She came in second in 2009 with a time of 2:32:10, but Canada’s Lioudmila Kortchaguina boasts the same record as Cheriuyot with four Ottawa Marathon wins to her credit.
“I’m looking forward to the race this year,” says the 38-year-old Kortchaguina. “Ottawa is a great race and I have a lot of good memories here.”
Russian runner Svetlana Ponomarenko could beat out Kortchaguina despite being 41 years of age. Also in contention is Mary Davies, a 26-year-old native of New Zealand who recently moved to Ottawa and enters the race fresh from a Montreal half-marathon win.
“The field for women is wide open,” says Manny Rodrigues. “The bar has been raised this year.”
Organisers for the IAAF