Two individual medallists from last year’s World Road Running Championships in Udine, Patrick Makau Musyoki and Pamela Chepchumba, have been selected to lead the Kenyan charge at the IAAF/CAIXA World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Sunday 12 October.
Kenya might not have taken an individual title in Debrecen 2006 (20km) or Udine 2007 (half marathon) but overall they dominated both editions of the World Road Running Champs, with wins in the men’s and women’s team categories. Having taken eight men’s and four women’s team titles in the history of World Half Marathon between 1992 and 2005, one could almost say it was business as usual for the east African powerhouse in the two years since the last World Half Marathon Championships were contested in 2005 in Edmonton, Canada.
By including the men’s silver and women’s bronze medallists from last year respectively Patrick Makau Musyoki and Pamela Chepchumba, Kenya have again signalled their serious intent to win gold once more.
Makau Musyoki is the third fastest runner of all-time at the half marathon distance with a personal best of 58:56 from winning the Berlin Half Marathon in 2007. The 23-year-old has had another exemplary year at the half marathon in 2008 with a series of wins beginning in Ras Al Khaimah in February (59:35, 8 Feb). This success was followed by victories in Reading (61:19, 2 Mar), the Hague (60:08, 15 Mar), and a title defence in Berlin in 60:00 exactly on 6 April.
A 60:59 run then took Makau Musyoki to second place in New York on 28 July, before he sped to the third fastest time in the world this year with this 59:29 win in Rotterdam on 14 September.
Four of the men's squad of five that Kenya has lined-up for Rio have PBs under the hour, so it is clear that they will be the team to beat on 12 October.
Chepchumba is a 29-year-old and like the male Kenyan team lead in Rio possesses an impressive road race pedigree. Her half marathon PB comes from her bronze medal run in Udine. Chepchumba's time of 68:06 saw her finish way behind the World record win of former compatriot Lornah Kiplagat of Holland (66:25), but still placed her as one of the top-20 fastest women of all-time. An accomplished marathon runner, Chepchumba was also the 2007 Milan Marathon champion in a PB of 2:25:37.
After a second place in 72:27 in Ras Al Khaimah in February of this year, Chempchumba sped to her fastest run so far of 2008 with a 69:59 runners-up spot in Lisbon on 16 March. At high altitude she then won in Bogotá on 27 July in a time of 72:55, and more recently showed her good form in the more normal atmosphere of Porto, Portugal, with a solid 70:27 victory on 21 September.
Chepchumba will be joined in Rio by Peninah Arusei, whose credentials for the half marathon are just if not more impressive. Arusei has a personal best of 68:22 when completing a Kenyan double at the Berlin Half Marathon in April this year. This is the third fastest time in the world in 2008, and while it has been her only outing at the distance this year, she returned back to the German capital in May to win the 25km race in a PB of 1:24:10.
Arusei was 18th in Beijing on the track in the Olympic 10,000m (31:39.87), and also sped to a 10km road PB of 31:42 in Holland in March.
The Kenyan team will be led and coached by Patrick Sang, who during his own career was a multiple global medallist at the 3000m Steeplechase.
Saddique Shaban and Chris Turner for the IAAF
Kenyan squad for Rio
Pb 1:08:22 06/04/2008 Berlin
Sb 1:08:22 06/04/2008 Berlin
PB 1:08:06 14/10/2007 UDINE
SB 1:09:59 16/03/2008 LISBOA
Muraga Julia Mumbi
PB 1:08:31 11/05/2008 SENDAI
SB 1:08:31 11/05/2008 SENDAI
Ngigi Pauline Wangui
PB 1:09:49 15/03/2008 DEN HAAG
SB 1:09:49 15/03/2008 DEN HAAG
Kibiwott Stephen Kipkoech
PB 59:44 06/09/2008 LILLE
SB 59:44 06/09/2008 LILLE
PB 59:45 01/09/2007 LILLE
SB 59:52 14/09/2008 ROTTERDAM
PB 59:48 04/02/2007 MARUGAME
SB 1:00:35 08/02/2008 RAS AL KHAIMAH
PB 1:02:53 03/05/2008 INDIANAPOLIS, IN
SB 1:02:53 03/05/2008 INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Musyoki Patrick Makau
PB 58:56 01/04/2007 BERLIN
SB 59:29 14/09/2008 ROTTERDAM