02 OCT 2009 Preview Lisbon, Portugal

Sang to face two Berlin medallists in his battle to defend title at Portugal Half Marathon - PREVIEW

Silas Sang takes a surprise victory in Lisbon in 2008 (Marcelino Almeida)Silas Sang takes a surprise victory in Lisbon in 2008 (Marcelino Almeida) © Copyright

Two Kenyans, defending men’s champion Silas Sang and the 2009 World marathon silver medallist Emmanuel Mutai, and Ethiopia’s 2009 World and 2008 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede, are the standout names contesting the men’s race at the 10th Vodafone Portugal Half Marathon which takes place this Sunday (4 Oct).

Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew, the 2009 World 10,000m bronze medallist, and Boston marathon champion Salina Kosgei lead the women’s start list.

The Portugal Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Race.

A great day is expected with more than 15,000 people choosing to cross the new Tagus river bridge (Vasco da Gama Bridge) in a mass race, sharing the start line with some sensational runners, four of them who have run the half marathon in under one hour.

MEN

2008 winner Kenyan Silas Sang, 31, who has a personal best of 60:34 is returning to defend his title but faces a stiff challenge from two of the three medallists in the marathon at the recent World Championships in Berlin.

The silver medallist, Emmanuel Mutai, from Kenya, who also fourth in the 2008 London Marathon, and was the winner in Lisbon (60:49 PB) in 2007 over the half marathon distance, along with Ethiopia’s Berlin bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede (59:35 PB) will be Sang’s chief opponents.

But many more runners have a realistic chance of victory too, as Kenyans Evans Cheruiyot (59:05 PB), the 2007 World Half Marathon bronze medallist, and Charles Munyeki (59:44 PB), and Uganda’s Dickson Marwa (59:52 PB), each have personal bests under 60 mins.

Spain’s Jose Manuel Martinez (62:36 PB), 8th in 2009 World Championships marathon, Kenyans Francis Kosgei (61:37 PB), Elisha Birgen (61:20 PB), Alphonse Yatich (62:10) and Joel Kimurer (61:00); Uganda’s Nicholas Kiprono (60:25) are also in the line-up.

Portuguese internationals Rui Pedro Silva (62:36), and the 10th and 13th placed marathoners in the Berlin World champs respectively Luís Feiteira (64:01) and Fernando Silva (63:29), plus José Ramos (63:49) and Hermano Ferreira (63:22) are the best home runners.

WOMEN

The women’s field includes the surprising bronze medallist of the 10,000m at the Berlin World Championship, the Ethiopian Wude Ayalew, who was also the 2008 winner of the famous race (15km) on New Year’s Eve, S. Silvestre, in Brazil.

She faces a strong field that includes Kenyans Salina Kosgei  (67:52 PB), the Boston marathon champion this year who was also the winner of Lisbon half marathon in 2006 and 2008, Magdaline Chemjor (69:39 PB) and Florence Barsosio (71:03 PB); Russian Olga Glok (69:58), and Ethiopians Aselefech Assefa (71:40 PB) and Berkinesh Shiferaw (71:19 PB).

Among the Portuguese runners there is new revelation Marisa Barros  (70:37 PB), 6th in the Berlin World Championship marathon, Dulce Felix (71:27 PB), Monica Rosa (73:09 PB) and Leonor Carneiro (73:05 PB)

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF