Three-time HAJ Hannover Marathon winner Lusapho April will line up against German record-holder Arne Gabius at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on 9 April.
April’s first victory in Hannover came in 2011 when he won in 2:09:25. He followed it two years later with a course record and personal best of 2:08:32 and added a third Hannover win to his collection last year, winning in 2:11:27.
“Hannover has become something of a second sporting home,” said the 34-year-old South African. “I have always been very warmly welcomed and I have recorded my best achievements and celebrated my greatest successes.”
Gabius will be one of April’s main opponents in Hannover. The 2012 European 5000m silver medallist moved up to the marathon in 2014 and broke the German record on his second attempt at the distance, clocking 2:08:33 – just one second slower than April’s lifetime best.
Having been sidelined by injury for the second half of 2016, the 35-year-old is hoping for a return to form in Hannover.
Three Kenyans have been entered who will make it tough for April and Gabius. Philipp Kimutai has a personal best of 2:06:07 while Nicholas Kamakya and Cheshari Jacob have run 2:06:34 and 2:07:46 respectively.
Kimutai was supposed to challenge April already a year ago in Hannover, but visa problems meant he had to cancel his participation at the last minute. Now the Kenyan heads the entry list once again. He clocked his personal best back in 2011 when he was fourth in Frankfurt.
Kamakya’s PB is also six years old, but he showed fine form when taking second in Cologne last autumn in 2:10:22.
Two years after running his PB of 2:07:46 in Frankfurt, Jacob won the 2015 Hannover Marathon in 2:09:32.
"On this occasion we don’t think too much about the course record," said Christoph Kopp, who is responsible for the elite field in Hannover. "We simply hope to create a thrilling contest. If it should become a very fast race as well then it would be even better, but it is not a priority."
The opposite is true in the women's race as Germany's Fate Tola intends to challenge the course record.
"I always set myself ambitious goals and then fully concentrate on reaching them," said Tola, who received German citizenship two weeks too late to gain selection for the Olympic Games, but bounced back with a second place in Frankfurt in 2:25:42, just 28 seconds shy of her PB.
The two-time Vienna City Marathon champion will now hope to produce a similar performance on the flat course in Hannover and break the 2:27:07 course record set by Ukraine’s Olena Burkovska in 2013.
While there will be more additions to the women’s field in the coming weeks, Ethiopia’s 2014 Rome Marathon champion Ayelu Lemma Geda currently looks to be the strongest rival for Fate Tola. The Ethiopian has a PB of 2:29:49 from Milan in 2015 where she was second.
Organisers for the IAAF