No less than 12,000 runners will gather on Sunday (22) to take part in the 35th ‘Rock’n’Roll Madrid Marathon’. This event is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race and has attracted a number of fine specialists over the 42.195km distance.
Madrid is the next leg of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series which intends to celebrate the run and not just the finish, featuring live bands along the course, cheer teams and entertaining water stations. The outdoor festival will encapsulate the city in its entirety and will culminate with a finish line festival featuring some of the best music acts around.
Historically, the altitude of Madrid (695m above the sea level) and the undulating profile of its course has defeated the purpose of recording fast times; actually, the course records remain at a relatively modest 2:10:58 (men) and 2:32:04 (women) but the field assembled for Sunday promises serious attacks on those performances.
Arusei to retain title? – men’s race
In the men’s section, there will be a numerous crop of Kenyan representatives led by the defending champion Moses Arusei, who broke the course record in 2011 thanks to a 2:10:58 time. The 28-year-old will be accompanied by Felix Limo, holder of an impressive 2:06:14 personal best clocking from 2004, although his fastest time for the last three years is 2:09:47 from London 2009. Limo’s last appearance came in Berlin last September when the 31-year-old managed the fourth place in a SB of 2:10:38.
According to their backgrounds, the most illustrious entrant is Paul Kirui, the 2004 World Half Marathon champion in New Delhi. Similarly to Limo, Kirui is a 2:06:44 performer from 2006 but has been unable to reproduce those kinds of times over recent seasons, his last Marathon being last year in Vienna with a 2:11:54 performance to his credit.
Madrid 2010 champion Thomson Cherogony also of Kenya should also be a factor on Sunday as he perfectly knows the circuit having also been runner-up last year five seconds behind Arusei.
However, the most recent sub-2:10 time among entrants was posted by Ethiopia’s Hailu Abebe thanks to a 2:09:52 for second in Reims last year when he came just 18 seconds shy of his career best set two years earlier in the same city. Zimbabwe’s Cuthbert Nyasango (16th at last year’s Worlds in Daegu) is a Madrid-based Cross Country and Half Marathon (60:26) specialist who might break his career best of 2:12:40 from Boston 2010.
Kenya’s Erick Kibet (1:01:10 PB for the Half Marathon) will be in charge of the pacemaking duties.
East Europeans look for a clean sweep – Women’s race
The women’s competition includes a six-athlete group with career bests in the 2:27-2:32 region headed by Russia’s Natalya Volgina (2:27:32), who took the Dusseldorf Marathon in 2:30:47 two years ago while her last outing came in Amsterdam where she had to settle for eighth with a 2:35:10 clocking.
Lithuania’s Diana Lobacevske finished runner-up at the Carpi Marathon a couple of years ago to set a PB of 2:28:03 while the 38-year-old Portuguese Ana Dias is the only other sub-2:30 entrant (2:28:49 back in 2003) having very recently raced over 10,000m (32:13.62 in Lisbon on 24 March) and Half Marathon (1:13:17 in Madrid on 1 April).
Ukraine’s Svetlana Stanko-Klimenko (2:31:28), Belarus’ Volha Dubouskaya (2:31:41) and Kyrghizstan’s Julia Arkhipova (2:32.09) should also fight for the podium places while Kenya’s Joan Aiyabei, a 1:11:02 Half Marathon performer will be making her Marathon debut no less than 16(!) years after capturing the World Cross Country championships bronze medal in the short race.
Weather forecasters predict a nice day with temperatures ranging between 12 and 16º Celseus by the time of the event.
For the third time, an additional 10Km race will take place alongside the Marathon and Carlos Castillejo will kick-off as the favourite to join the list of past victors, Ethiopia’s living legend Haile Gebrselassie in 2010 and Kenya’s Joseph Kipkosgei Bwambok last year. The 33-year-old Spaniard has also secured his presence at the London Olympic Games over the 42.195km event. On the women’s section the Spanish champion Vanessa Veiga – former (2003) World Marathon silver medallist Julio Rey’s wife – is the woman to beat.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF