Yitayal Atnafu winning the 2014 Semi-Marathon de Boulogne-Billancourt (Anthony Chaumontel) © Copyright
Iaaf News Boulogne, France

Semi-Marathon de Boulogne-Billancourt cancelled due to terrorist outrage

The organisers of the Semi-Marathon de Boulogne-Billancourt Christian Granger have cancelled the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race scheduled for Sunday (15) following the horrendous series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.

The IAAF condemns these attacks and sends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all affected by this outrage against innocent members of the public.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe commented: "This was a horrendous act of barbarity at which the whole athletics family unites in condemnation. On 7 July 2005, the day after London won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games, the British capital suffered similar attacks with more than 50 dead and many hundreds injured. I know London and the whole of Britain stands united with Paris and France today."

IAAF

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The 19th edition of the Semi-Marathon de Boulogne-Billancourt, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, will see Ethiopia’s Yitayal Atnafu looking to retain his title in the Parisian suburb on Sunday (15).

Atnafu he set his half marathon personal best with 1:01:07 in 2014 if the former African junior 5000m champion was to win this year then he would become the first athlete, of either gender, to win back-to-back Boulogne-Billancourt titles.

However, the man who will wear the number one bib for Sunday’s race has a tough task to defend his title as he will be facing a field that includes three sub-1:01 runners.

The fastest man is the field is Mule Wasihum and although he hasn’t run in France yet in 2015, the Ethiopian is very familiar with French roads.

Last year he clocked his personal best of 1:00:08 to win in Paris and he was second in both the Rennes 10km and in the Marseille-Cassis 20km, when he set his best mark over the distance with 59:22. He also won ‘La Classique Paris-Versailles’ in 2013.

However, Atnafu hasn’t run competitively since July, when finishing sixth at the Utica Boilermarker 15km race in the USA in 44:25. Earlier this year the Ethiopian clocked 1:01:16 at the Barcelona half marathon, when he placed fourth.

The Kenyan pair of Cosmas Jairus Birech – not to be confused with the well-known steeplechaser with a similar name – and Kennedy Kipyeko should be very strong contenders.

Birech, 29, may even be considered the favourite in light of his latest outings.  He has improved his lifetime bests over 10km, 20km and the half marathon this year, a set of marks which includes a time of 1:00:23 when finishing third at the Lille Half Marathon in September.

He also finished fourth at the Marseille-Cassis 20km three weeks ago.

Kipyeko looking for another Nice experience

Kipyeko is the third fastest man in the field thanks to his 1:00:39 set in Milan last March when he was the runner-up. The 24-year-old was fifth at the challenging Marseille-Cassis 20km in 1:01:00, 17 seconds adrift of his compatriot.

However, Kipyeko has also been victorious on French roads in the past and was the winner of last year's Nice half marathon.

Other athletes who can also be expected to be in contention for the podium include Eritrea’s Yohanes Gergish, Kenya’s Rodgers Maiyo and Jameson Kabuku, as well as Ethiopia’s Birhan Nebebew.

The latter, who was sixth in the junior men’s race at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, will have his first half marathon and has the second fastest 10km PB in the field with 27:59 from three years ago.

With cool but sunny conditions and not much wind expected for Sunday’s race, the course record of 1:00:11 set by Kenya’s Franklin Chepwony in 2013 could be in jeopardy.

On the women’s side, Polline Wanjiku looks to be the favourite.

The Kenyan has a PB of 1:09:06 set in 2014 and ran 1:10:28 to finish seventh in a high quality race in Valencia a month ago.

Her main rivals should be Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba, who clocked 1:10:46 over the distance in 2014 and Ethiopia’s Zewdnesh Ayele who was runner-up last year in Boulogne-Billancourt when clocking a PB of 1:11:37.

The women's course record is held by Ethiopia’s Dado Firehiwot, who ran 1:09:26 in 2009.

Approximately about 8200 runners coming from more than 60 countries will take part at the Semi-Marathon de Boulogne-Billancourt, which makes this half-marathon one of the most popular in France, and the last major one of the year.

Quentin Guillon for the IAAF