25 OCT 2012 Preview Chuncheon, Korea

Course record the target in Chuncheon

David Kiyeng winning the 2010 Joongang Seoul Marathon (Joongang Marathon organisers)David Kiyeng winning the 2010 Joongang Seoul Marathon (Joongang Marathon organisers) © Copyright

25 October 2012 - Stanley Biwott’s 2:07:03 course record will be the target at the Chosunilbo Chuncheon International Marathon on Sunday (28).

This IAAF Gold Label Road Race, celebrating it’s 66th edition, will welcome a field of 19,493 in the Marathon and another 5853 in the 10Km, arriving from 32 countries. The race is held in a charming small city of Chuncheon with a 1000-year history, on a very picturesque course running past the large and beautiful Lake Uiam on one side and scenic autumn-coloured woods and mountains on the other. 

Warm and clear conditions are expected with 13C forecast for the Marathon start at 9 am, and going up to 17C in the afternoon. This year a large field of 77 elite men, including 20 foreigners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Russia, Moldova and Uganda is expected along with 28 domestic elite women.

As in the previous two years, the start and finish line of the Marathon loop course will be located on the wide eight-lane Hoban street going past Gongjucheon Park to accommodate thousands of mass runners and to make the last stretch of the course more flat. After a course change in 2010, the men’s record was renewed twice and now belongs to Kenyan Biwott at 2:07:03. The absence of invited international elite runners has left the women’s 2:26:12 course record, belonging to Korean runner Eunju Kwon, unchanged since 1997.

Men’s race -

A pack of 14 Kenyans, including 3 pacemakers, will challenge six runners from other countries in the battle for the $50,000 prize, and the additional $30,000 bonus on offer for new course record. Arriving with the best chances to get the biggest piece of the pie is 29-year old Kenyan David Kemboi Kiyeng, who brings a PB 2:06:26 from the 2009 Paris Marathon and 2:07:57 set at the Daegu Marathon this season.

He can expect competition from his younger countryman Nickson Kurgat, 24, who set his personal best of 2:08:43 at Milan this year and finished with a 1:01:43 PB in Ostia Half Marathon in 2011. Other notable Kenyan runners include: experienced 33-year-old Yusuf Chebii Songoka with 2:08:08 PB and 2:09:08 season’s best from Daegu Marathon 2011 and 2012 respectively, and Jonathan Kosgey Kipkorir, 29, with PBs of 2:07:31 in 2009 Paris Marathon and 1:00:19 in Ostia Half Marathon 2009.

These four perspective leaders of could be challenged by Ethiopia’s Solomon Tsige, 27, with a fresh personal best of 2:09:01 set in Xiamen this season; his compatriot 29-year old Negari Terfa, with PB 2:07:41 from the 2009 Berlin Marathon and a season’s best 2:11:54 from Xiamen, and Russia’s Beijing Olympian Aleksey Sokolov, 32, with a 2:09:07 PB from 2007 Dublin Marathon and a season’s best 2:10:59 shown in Nagano Marathon. 

Others to look out for from Kenya are Kimutai Cheruiyot, 27, who set 2:11:30 PB and season’s best finishing ninth in this year’s Tiberias Marathon; Sammy Kiptoo Kurgat, 37, (PB 2:08:38 in 2007 Frankfurt Marathon) and season’s best of 2:12:05 set in Gunsan Marathon; George Kiprop Ngetich, 28 who set a 2:12:19 PB and season’s best in Hong Kong Marathon; Marius Kipserem, 24 (PB 2:13:02 Brescia Marathon 2012); and Nelson Kirva Rotich, 31, with PB 2:10:13 from 2009 Chuncheon Marathon and season’s best 2:13:33 in Hong Kong Marathon.

Aside from the Kenyans, the elite field includes Zimbabwe’s Cutbert Nyasango, 30, with a 2:12:08 PB set at this year’s Olympic Marathon; Moldova’s Iaroslav Musinschi, 36 (PB 2:08:32 in 2010 Dusseldorf Marathon and 2:13:25 season’s best from Vienna); and Uganda’s Peter Naibei Kwalia who clocked a 2:12:07 PB at the 2009 Ljubljana Marathon.

Like in 2011 Korean challenge will be led by 31-year old Youngjun Ji whose 2:08:30 PB came when winning the 2009 Daegu Marathon), 22-year-old Jinhuyeok Jeong with a 2:09:28 PB set at the Seoul Int’l Marathon in 2011 and a season’s best 2:11:48 set at the same race this year; and Junhyeon Hwang, 25, with a PB 2:10:43 from 2010 JungAng Seoul Marathon.

Three Kenyan runners have been recruited to set the pace: Paul Kipkorir Kipkemoi, 30, who has a 1:01:11 Half Marathon PB from 2011; Ben Kiplimo Mutai, 30, with a 1:02:03 PB set this year; and Kiprop Mutai, 25, whose 1:02:20 PB also was set this year.

Women’s race –

The focus on the women’s race will be local. Among the leading contenders is 28-year-old Sunyoung Lee with a 2:27:48 PB set at the 2009 Seoul International Marathon, and a season’s best 2:37:13 set in the same event. Others to watch are 23-year old Seongeun Kim with a PB 2:29:27 shown in 2010 Seoul International Marathon and season’s best 2:29:53 at the same race this year; Jinsook Chang, 29, with a 2:32:14 PB from Jeonju Marathon 2007; Ho Sun Park, 25, with PB 2:32:21 in 2009 Seoul International Marathon and a season’s best 2:34:02 from the same race; and Kyeonghee Lim, 29, with 2:32:49 PB and season’s best set this year in Daegu Marathon.

Yelena Kurdyumova and Sergey Porada for the IAAF