Moses Mosop intends to show that he still belongs to the world’s best marathon runners when he competes in the 20th anniversary edition of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (11).
The Kenyan, who is the star of the elite field, will be chasing the victory and, potentially, the course record. But while the focus in the build-up to the race is very much on Mosop, victory will not come easy in the Czech capital as there are five other athletes with sub-2:07 personal bests.
“I’m happy to be in Prague. It’s a nice city and I want to win here on Sunday,” said Mosop, who originally planned to run the Boston Marathon last month before injuries forced him to withdraw. “First I had a problem in my right knee and then in my left calf. I missed around three weeks of training, so I could not go to Boston but I thought I could still run a marathon later in the season. That is why I am here.”
The 28-year-old Kenyan is the second-fastest marathoner of all time with 2:03:06. He ran this on his debut marathon on Boston’s unratifiable point-to-point course in 2011 when he finished second. “It was my first marathon, so this was a great result for me,” he said when asked about his PB. “I still have time to run such a time again in the future (on a standard course).
“I have not competed for a long time, so I will have to see how it goes on Sunday. I am not 100%, but I hope to run well,” added Mosop, who last competed at the Chicago Marathon in 2013 when he finished eighth in 2:11:19, a time he hopes to better in Prague. “If all is fine with my knee, maybe 2:05 to 2:06 is possible. We might even give it a go at the course record.”
Mosop prepared in Eldoret for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon and among his training partners were Wilson Chebet and Sammy Kitwara. Occasionally the world marathon record-holder Wilson Kipsang joins the group too.
In Prague, a dozen runners are on the start list with sub-2:10 personal bests. Including Mosop, five of them have run faster than 2:07.
Mosop’s rivals include the defending champion Nicholas Kemboi. Born in Kenya and now running for Qatar, he has a PB of 2:08:01. Last year in warm weather conditions he won in Prague with 2:08:51.
But the toughest challenge for Mosop might come from Ethiopians Dadi Yami and Deresa Chimsa who have personal bests of 2:05:41 and 2:05:42 respectively.
Chepchirchir returns with victory on her mind
In the women’s race, 2011 New York Marathon champion Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia and Kenya’s Flomena Chepchirchir are regarded as the favourites.
Chepchirchir, who was second in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon two years ago, clocked her personal best of 2:23:00 when finishing runner-up at the 2013 Frankfurt Marathon. This will be Chepchirchir’s second marathon start within a month as she dropped out of Boston in April. This is part of the reason why Dado is regarded as the favourite in Prague.
“It makes it tougher if you are the favourite, but I am in good form,” said Dado, who has a PB of 2:23:15. “I think that I can win and run a good time.”
A record number of 10,000 runners from 91 nations have entered the Volkswagen Prague Marathon and maximum capacity was reached months ago. Celebrating the 20th edition of their event, organisers from Run Czech welcome a number of former world-class runners and personalities of the sport as guests of honour. Among them are Norway’s former world marathon record-holder Ingrid Kristiansen and 1988 Olympic marathon champion Gelindo Bordin. The Italian is one of the founding members of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, together with Carlo Capalbo and the legendary Emil Zatopek.
“When we started back in 1995 it was our aim to build a small version of the New York City Marathon,” said Capalbo, who is the president of the Run Czech organising committee. “Today our race belongs to the best marathons in the world.”
Jorg Wenig for the IAAF
ELITE FIELD (with PBs)
Moses Mosop (KEN) 2:03:06
Eliud Kiptanui (KEN) 2:05:39
Dadi Yami (ETH) 2:05:41
Deresa Chimsa (ETH) 2:05:42
Nicholas Manza (KEN) 2:06:34
Nicholas Kipkemboi (KEN) 2:06:35
Yared Asmerom (ERI) 2:07:27
Nicholas Kemboi (QAT) 2:08:01
Abere Kassw (ETH) 2:08:15
Patrick Terer (KEN) 2:08:52
Kennedy Kwemoi Nabei (KEN) 2:09:54
Asmare Workneh (ETH) 2:09:56
Wesley Langat (KEN) 2:10:40
Evans Chebet (KEN) 2:11:26
Flomena Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:23:00
Firehiwot Dado (ETH) 2:23:15
Aberu Mekuria (ETH) 2:26:07
Yeshimebet Tadesse (ETH) 2:26:17
Yuliya Ruban (UKR) 2:27:00
Eunice Kales (KEN) 2:27:19
Fantu Eticha (ETH) 2:27:36
Beatrice Jepkemboi (KEN) 2:27:41
Konjit Tilahun (ETH) 2:28:11
Iulia Andreeva (KGZ) 2:30:57