Dennis Kimetto breaks the 25km World record in Berlin, clocking 1:11:18 (organisers) © Copyright
This year’s edition of this , scheduled for Sunday (27), is gearing up to welcome an array of global stars of every kind. The start list includes former champion Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, who had a creditable fourth place finish in the Olympic Marathon in Beijing four years ago. Merga, the winner here in 2009, finished outside the podium and in fourth place while attempting to defend his title in 2010. He is set to make his third appearance and vows to conquer the top spot in the men’s race once again.
Spotlight on Kimetto
Notwithstanding Merga’s intentions, what accentuates the scene is the arrival of Dennis Kipruto Kimetto, the newest World record holder* from Kenya in road racing. Kimetto, in the first week of this month, clocked a splendid 1:11:18 World record* over 25 kilometres in Berlin. A second placer in the prestigious Ras-Al-Khaimah Half Marathon earlier this year Kimetto is fine-tuned to wage an assault on the course record of 27:51 set by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea in the inaugural edition here in 2008. Some experts are confident enough in Kimetto's abilities and form to predict he could clock somewhere under 27 minutes.
Kimetto’s country-mate and last year’s runner-up Leonard Langat wishes to finish one place higher this time around. Another runner-up from the opening episode in 2008, Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, and last year’s World Marathon bronze medallist Ethiopian Feyisa Lelisa — a podium finisher in Bangalore in 2010 — is promising to make the event memorable.
Momanyi looking for a clear win in women’s race
Like Merga, another champion athlete is also making a third appearance this year. Grace Momanyi, the Kenyan who had a rare 'tie’ for the top spot with Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey when the race was introduced four years ago, is ready for another big win. In 2010, when both Momanyi and Abeylegesse clashed for the second time after a year's hiatus, Momanyi finished third while the Turk ended in 11th place. But the Kenyan went on to win Commonwealth gold in the 10,000m later that year at Delhi while teammate Doris Changeiywo took the silver medal behind her. Changeiywo joins Momanyi for combat this year after finishing sixth a year ago.
The main rival for the Kenyans could be Merima Mohammed from Ethiopia. A runner-up in the Mumbai Marathon and later the Bangalore 10K last year, the Ethiopian ran well again with her third place at the Xiamen Marathon in China earlier this year.
Other notable competitors include Sultan Hayadar of Turkey who was second in the Paris Marathon and Fyles Ongori of Kenya, the Berlin Half Marathon winner this season.
The winners in both the sections will be richer by USD 21,000 from a total prize pool of USD 170,000. More than 21,000 runners will take to the Bangalore roads on Sunday in various categories. This year’s event will also witness the reintroduction of the Nation’s Challenge which features 27 state teams from across the country.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF
*pending the usual ratification procedures