22 OCT 2009 Preview

Disi, the pre-race favourite in Marseille - PREVIEW

Dieudonne Disi wins in Delhi in 2007 (AFP / Getty Images)Dieudonne Disi wins in Delhi in 2007 (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright

Marseille, FranceMarseilleCassis “Classique Internationale” will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Sunday 25 October. The 20.308 km race will start at 9:30am in Stade Vélodrome in Marseille and end in Cassis’ port via a 327m climb mid-way on the Col de la Gineste.

The Marseille-Cassis “Classique Internationale” is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

No less than 12,000 participants are going to line-up on the beautiful roads along the Mediterranean Sea. The forecast has announced a clear sky with a temperature around 16C on Sunday morning.

MEN

Dieudonné Disi is the outstanding favourite. Overcoming his disappointing performance at the World Championships Marathon in August (he withdrew at 28th km due to a pelvis displacement), the Rwandan has sailed from victory to victory in October.

On 1 October, Disi became the Francophone Games champion during a tactical (29:38.68) 10,000m in Beirut. On 12 October, he won the Paris 20km in 59:33. On 18 October, he equalled the Reims Half Marathon record in 1:01:13. Now the question is can the 28-year-old recover enough just seven days later to win the “Classique Internationale”?

Disi will once again face his runner-up from the recent Paris and Reims races, Michael Tesfay of Eritrea. However, the main opposition might come from Kenyan Matthew Koech, who won the 25km in Berlin in May in the excellent time of 1:13:24.

Koech’s team mate John Kyui, the winner of the "Classique Internationale" in 2006 will have the advantage of knowing the route, as does Tanzanian Samwel Shauri, who was 3rd in 2007 and 4th in 2008.

The main chance for France will be represented by James Theury, who placed 23th at World Half Marathon Championships on 11 October.

The men’s race record has stood at 59:01 since 2002 and was set by James Kwambai (KEN).

WOMEN

The women’s race offers an expected dual between Kenyan Helah Kiprop and Ethiopian Meseret Mengistu.

Kiprop, 24, is the logical favourite with two convincing wins in April at the Half Marathon distance (69:29 PB in Nice and 72:43 in Merano). She will be escorted on her task by two other Kenyans, Emily Rotich and Emily Jemutai.

Mengistu recently smashed her personal best of 72:03 (which gave her 11th place at the 2008 World Half Marathon Championships in Rio) lowering it to 69:45 when taking victory in Reims. The Ethiopian already drew international attention in July when placing second at 10km during the USA National Champs in 31:32.

The women’s race record is 1:08:30 held by Susan Chepkmei (KEN) set back in 2000, which would seem once again out of reach for the field, but there could be a surprise especially as Mengistu’s potential is yet to be discovered.

P-J Vazel for the IAAF