Bizunesh Bekele and Robert Kipkoech (far left) with organisers in Lisbon (Marcelino Almeida) © Copyright
General News 23 September 2006 – Lisbon, Portugal

Cheruiyot, Kiprop the favourites in the Portugal Half Marathon

Lisbon, PortugalThis Sunday Lisbon will host the 7th “RTP Portugal Half Marathon,” one of the largest competitions regularly organised in the Portuguese capital.

In a strong bet of the organizers, with the leadership of Carlos Moya, vice-president of AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Road Races), this event presents a “new generation of runners that can be stars in the near future,” as he said.

With the starting line in the centre of the largest bridge in Europe (Vasco da Gama, the name of Portuguese explorer who found the sea way to India from Europe in 1498), this event has more than 15,000 people running.

In the front, African runners are still the favourites to win. First, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya, (59:21, personal best) the winner of the Boston Marathon this year, and also the winner in Milan in 2002. But, this champion in five visits to Lisbon (in March, Lisbon Half Marathon, or September, Portugal Half Marathon) has never won, collecting one second place in this event, and two seconds and two third places in Lisbon Half Marathon.

The best opponents are the Kenyans Paul Kosgei (59:07 PB), the World Half Marathon champion in 2002 and winner of the 2006 Berlin Half Marathon, who intends to “win this race for the first time”; Richard Limo, fourth in the World Cross Country Championship in 2003, with a personal best of 26:50.20 in the 10,000m; Peter Kipkas (1:02:21), fourth in Lisbon Half Marathon (2000); Edwin Kibet (1:02:48), winner in the Barcelona (2005) and Valencia (2006) half marathons; Joshua Chelanga (1:01:01 PB), third in 2004 Berlin Marathon (4th in 2005); and Ethiopian Ambela Tolosa, winner in the Tokyo (2006), Paris (2004) and Sapporo (1998) marathons.

In the Portuguese field, the top runners include Eduardo Henriques (1:02:53 PB), European cross country runner-up in 1999, third in 2003; Luis Jesus, seventh in the 1998 World Half Marathon Championship (1:00:56 PB), and fourth in the 2006 Paris Marathon; and Helder Ornelas (1:03:27 PB), eighth in the 1999 World Cross Country Championships, and winner of the 2005 Milan Marathon.

In the women’s pack, African runners are also the favourites to win, as we see the names of the Kenyans Nancy Kiprop (1:12:21 PB), first in this year’s Lille Half Marathon; Pamela Chemchumba (1:09:09 PB) fifth in the World Half Marathon Championships in 2000 and 2002, and third in this year’s Paris Marathon; Caroline Kwambai, 12th in the World Half Marathon Championships in 2001, and winner of the half marathons in Prague (2006) Cordoba (2005) and Glasgow (2003); and the Ethiopian Bezunesh Bekele (1:11:23), the winner of the Rotterdam Half Marathon in 2005.

Among the Portuguese, the front runners are Leonor Carneiro (1:17:49 PB), 5th in last year’s edition; Helena Sampaio (1:10:15 PB), 4th in this event in 2001; and Analia Rosa (1:13.39), five times Portuguese cross country champion, in both short and long distance and 10th in the European Championships marathon.

António Manuel Fernandes for IAAF