General view - road running (Getty Images) © Copyright
The men’s course record for this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race is 2:13:02 set by Russian Eduard Tukhbatullin back in 1993. The women’s course record of 2:30:21 was set by Russian Albina Ivanova in 2002. This year the elite field of eight men and eight women from Russia and five other countries will toe the start line on a hot Sunday evening with an expected 30C at 5 o’clock on Sobornaya Square in Omsk downtown. The start will be accompanied by the bell ringing from Uspensky Cathedral, originally built in the 19th century as the main church of the city. It was then blown up in 1935 by the Soviets and fully rebuilt and renewed services by 2007.
Men’s race -
In the men’s field the most notable competitor is 28-year old Oleksandr Matviychuk from Ukraine with a PB 2:12:53 set four months ago winning the Pyongyang Marathon, a notable improvement on the 2:16:30 he ran at Moscow Peace Marathon in 2011.
Matviychuk can expect competition from Othaniel Sefako Phahlane, 27, from South Africa, who also pushed his personal best from 2:17:29 to 2:14:55 which placed him 8th in Mumbai Marathon in 2012.
Another to look out for is Kenyan Evans Kipkorir Taiget, 26, with PB 2:15:53 from the 2011 Nairobi Marathon and a 1:03:21 PB from the 2011 Viana do Castelo Half Marathon. He also feels confident on shorter, track distances. This year, just a month ago, he finished second with 1:45.91 PB on 800m at Heusden-Zolder KBC Night of Athletics.
Others to watch: Aleh Hur, 26, from Belarus, PB 2:17:26 at Moscow Peace Marathon in 2009 and Russian Andrey Bryzgalov, 35, PB 2:14:20 at Pyongyang Marathon - 2007.
Men’s field will be led to the prize purse by two Russian pacemakers: experienced Oleg Kulkov, 34, PB 2:10:13, 2nd place in Zurich Marathon 2009, which he exactly repeated at Seoul International Marathon-2011 placing third, and younger Mikhail Kulkov, 27 with a 2:14:46 PB at 2010 Toulouse Marathon.
Women’s Race –
Defending champion, Russian Nina Podnebesnova, 32, from Omsk (PB 2:31:37 set at 2010 Russian Marathon Championships in Moscow) returns to her home Marathon to improve her last year winning time of 2:37:22. She ran Rome marathon twice finishing with 2:33:12 in 2011 and 2:41:31 in 2012.
Podnebesnova can expect tough competition from her compatriot, also Omsk resident and 2010 winner of this marathon (2:39:45), 27-year-old Marina Kovaleva, who has a 2:31:11 PB at Paris Marathon-2011. She successfully performed this year in Rome Marathon, finishing 3rd with 2:31:53. Third Russian runner is Elena Kozhevnikova, 39, PB 2:37:41 at Warsaw Marathon 2008. She finished second in Belfast Marathon this year with 2:42:10.
Two other notable competitors will be coming from Belarus: 23-year-old Olha Mazurenok, successful race walker and Marathon runner. She set her Marathon PB of 2:33:56 by winning Debno Marathon this year, and was runner up in Omsk last year in 2:37:45. The experienced 38-year-old Alena Vinitskaya (PB 2:33:20, 1999 Prague) more recently finished fourth in 2011 in Jacksonville Marathon with 2:41:09.
Kenya will be represented by two athletes as well. Rebecca Tallam Jerotich, 35, with 2:35:56 PB and winning time at Verona Marathon- 2011, finished in Triesta Marathon this May in 2:37:10. Her promising younger compatriot, 25-year-old Lucy Karimi set PB of 2:38:06 in May 2012 at Kassel Marathon, shaving more tha 12 minutes from her previous best result of 2:50:36 from November 2011 Kampala Marathon in Uganda.
Ladies are lucky to have a pacemaker too. This will be the third runner from Omsk, the 2009 winner in 2:34:52, 31-year-old Yevgeniya Danilova. She has a PB of 2:31:44 set at 2010 Rotterdam Marathon and finished with 2:33:35 in Venice in 2011. Pacemakers sometimes run to the finish and win – that can happen in Omsk.
The total prize purse for all events is USD 48,625; the largest lump of it, $37,500, will go to the first six finishers - men and women. Each winner will receive $9,375 with an additional $1562 on offer for a course record. There is also a $4687 bonus for a new Russian record.
A scenic urban Marathon course will take runners on a circle tour along the city streets and embankments of powerful Irtysh River. Omsk, the second largest city in Siberia with a population of 1.5 million, will turn 300 years old in 2016.
Yelena Kurdyumova and Sergey Porada for the IAAF