Debut determination - Elvan Abeylegesse en route to her 1:07:07 in Ras Al Khaimah (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
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Abeylegesse takes starring role in Marugame Half Marathon

anticipated second outing over the 13.1Km distance will take centre stage at next month's Kagawa Marugame Half-Marathon.

The IAAF Silver Label Road Race, slated for 6 February in Marugame-Shi, Japan, features another strong cast with Abeylegesse, Turkey's double Olympic silver medallist in 2008, looming large.

Abeylegesse made an impressive debut over the distance one year ago in Ras Al Khaimah where she cruised to a 1:07:07 victory, a Turkish national record, and the fastest performance of 2010. Only five women have ever covered the distance faster. Adding intrigue to the plot is the fast Marugame course which hosted the standing Asian record of 1:07:26 set by Kayoko Fukushi in 2006. The 28-year-old Abeylegesse raced sparingly on the roads last year, focusing primarily on the European Championships where she captured gold with a dominating run in the 10,000m and then doubled back to take silver in the 5000m.

In Marugame she'll take on Fukushi who most recently impressed as the anchor on the victorious Kyoto squad at the Japanese Inter-Prefectural Women’s Ekiden championships. Russian Silvia Skvortsova and Australian Nikki Chapple are also among the entrants. Chapple was the surprise winner last year, clocking an 1:08:37 career best to upset prohibitive favourite Mara Yamauchi. More recently, Chapple finished 12th at the World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China, in October.

The men's race will feature Rachid Kisri of Morocco, Ukraine's Dmtro Baranovsky, Ji Young-Joon of Korea, Girma Tola of Ethiopia, and Kenyans Mekubo Mogusu and Cosmas Ondiba.

Bob Ramsak and Ken Nakamura for the IAAF