All smiles - Zersenay Tadese smashing the World Record in the Half Marathon in Lisbon (Marcelino Almeida) © Copyright
The four-time IAAF World Half Marathon champion is focused on trying to improve his own 58:23 World record he set at this IAAF Gold Label Road Race last year on the some course in the most famous and participated in event in Portugal.
Organisers have put a US$50,000 bonus on offer to anyone who can lower the mark Tadese set last year. And the Eritrean will have plenty of fast company.
Among them are his fellow-Eritreans Yonas Kifle, the 2005 World Half Marathon silver medallist with a 59:30 personal best; 2008 Olympic and 2009 World championships 10,000m finalist Kidane Tadese, whose 1:04:06 personal best is likely to fall; and Hais Welday, a Steeplechase specialist.
Leading the Kenyan contingent are Silas Sang (1:00:20), winner of the 2008 and 2009 Portugal Half Marathon; Evans Kiprop Cheruyiot (59:05) runner-up at the 2011 Dubai Marathon in 2:08.17; Josphat Kiprono Menjo (1:01:42), who was second at the 2010 Portugal Half marathon; Robert Kipchumba Kipkorir (59:28), winner of the 2007 EDP Lisbon Half Marathon and 2009 Rotterdam Marathon; Leonard Langat (59:52), who was third at the 2011 Ras Al Khaimad Half Marathon; Mike Kigen (27:25 at 10 km); and John Nzau Mwangangi (59:56), third at the Den Hague Half Marathon.
Other African nations will be reprented by Tanzanian Dickson Marwa (59:52), who was fourth in the 2010 Portugal Half Marathon; Ethiopian Yacob Jarso Kintra (1:00:07), third at the 2010 New Delhi Half Marathon; and Moroccan Abderhaim Bouramdane (1:00:01), who was fourth at the 2010 London Marathon.
Portuguese hopes lie with Hermano Ferreira (1:01:24), the national road race champion; Rui Pedro Silva (1:02:42), winner at the 2010 Ovar Half Marathon; Luis Feiteira (1:03:43), who was tenth at the 2010 European championship Marathon; Helder Ornelas (1:02.57); and Fernando Silva (1:02.58).
Jose Telles (1:03:33), winner of the Praia Grande, will lead Brazil’s contingent.
Organisers tried to secure the presence of Olympic Marathon champion and former World Half Marathon record holder Samuel Wanjiru, but the Kenyan was unable to attend.
Kosgei and Jeptoo in the front line – women’s race
In the women’s field, organisers have attracted two past winners. Kenyan Salina Kosgei (1:07:52) has won here twice, in 2006 and 2008, while her countrywoman Rita Jeptoo (1:07:05), took the title in 2007.
Facing them is a formidable Ethiopian squad led by Marathon ace Aberu Kebede (1:07:39), winner of the 2010 Berlin and Rotterdam Marathons. Joining the 21-year-old is veteran Berhane Adere (1:07:52), who has raced here several times but has yet to win; and Askale Tafa (1:09:46), winner of 2010 Paris and Milano Marathons.
Other Kenyans looking for a breakout include Helena Kirop (1:09:37), the 2010 Nairobi Marathon winner; Pauline Ndjeri (1:10:23); Ines Chenonge; Alice Timbilili (1:08:56); Grace Momanyi (1:10:19), and Diana Chepkemoi (1:10:36).
Also looking to rise to the next level are Moroccan Souad Kanbouchia (1:11:06), Spanish Beatriz Ros (1:12:38), Brasilian Rosangela Faria (1:11:42), Russians Yevgeniya Danilova (1:13:20) and Marina Kovaleva (1:13:36) and Portuguese Ana Dulce Felix (1:09:01) and Claudia Pereira (1:13:49), among others.
So, this fields will, certainly, produce great performances in this fantastic Half Marathon with two courses: one, totally flat, for the elite fields; and the other, on the top of the 25 of April Bridge and crossing the Tagus river, where more than 35,000 runners will participate. Only the wind can be an obstacle to great performances.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF