World half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir will make her major international marathon debut at the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday October 30.
Strictly speaking, her German outing will not be her first race over the classic distance of 26.2 miles because back in 2013, at the age of 20, she finished third at the Safaricom Marathon in Kisumu at high altitude in her native Kenya, crossing the line five minutes behind the winner, in 2:47:33.
But she is a different athlete today and has had a superb 2016 on the roads.
In addition to her world title in Cardiff back in March, she has also won high quality 10km races in India and Canada as well as setting a half marathon personal best of 1:06:39 for fourth place at the Ras Al Khaimah event in February this year.
Everything points to the training partner of the African marathon record-holder, her compatriot Mary Keitany, having the pedigree to make a successful transition to the full distance.
Anticipation will be high following the announcement of Jepchirchir’s participation at the 35th edition of the Frankfurt Marathon that she could even challenge the course record of 2:21:01 set by Ethiopia’s Meselech Melkamu on her marathon debut in 2012.
Cherono a role model
If Jepchirchir needs a role model, she will be reminded of another compatriot who made a successful transition to the marathon after winning the world half marathon title.
Gladys Cherono progressed from her triumph at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Copenhagen 2014 to a hugely impressive marathon debut in Dubai in January 2015, finishing second in 2:20:03, before running last year’s fastest time in the world when winning the Berlin title with 2:19:25 last September.
A strong recruit to the men’s race in Frankfurt is 31-year-old fellow Kenyan Mark Korir.
The winner of the Paris Marathon in 2015 with an impressive personal best of 2:05:49, Korir should relish the stage which the race beside the River Main offers for fast running.
Prior to Paris, Korir’s best had been 2:07:08 at the 2013 Seoul Marathon but his victory in the French capital, overhauling compatriot Mike Kigen in the closing stages, showed that he has a racing brain as well as the capacity to run fast.
Both will be required since the Frankfurt men’s course record is 2:03:42, set in 2011 by another Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang. At the time it was only four seconds slower than what was then the world record, and it is still the sixth fastest marathon ever.
Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF