Organisers of the RheinEnergie Marathon 2013 in the German city of Cologne, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, have recruited three top-class Kenyan runners to attack the year-old course record of 2:07:37 at the 17th edition of the race on Sunday (13).
Duncan Koech, who was third in Cologne last year with a personal best 2:07:53, Jackson Kipkoech Kotut and Nicholas Chelimo will have as their target the time set by their compatriot Albert Kering when he won last year.
Koech, 31, is a familiar face at German Marathons and nine of his 15 outings over the classic distance have been in Germany. It will also be his third appearance in Cologne after finishing 10th in 2009.
He has already been a Marathon winner this year, taking the honours at the Riga Marathon in May.
Kotut, 25, has a best of 2:07:30, which was set when winning the 2010 Barcelona Marathon, although he has not broken 2:10 since 2010.
Chelimo, 30, is in a similar position to Kotut and is looking to put himself back into the limelight after two below-par years. He has a best of 2:07:38 when finishing second in the 2010 Eindhoven Marathon.
Many eyes will also be on Uganda’s Philip Kiplimo, who won the WMRA Mountain Running World Championships in Poland last month. Kiplimo, who is making his Marathon debut, only has a Half Marathon best of 61:54 but it is worth bearing in mind that was set in altitude in Kampala last year.
Around 7000 athletes are expected to take to the streets of Cologne and run the Marathon, with another 20,000 taking part in the associated Half Marathon.
Among the competitors in the latter race is Sabrina Mockenhaupt, the winner for the last two years of the shorter race, as well as in 2008, and Marathon winner in 2007 and 2009.
Mockenhaupt is using the Half Marathon as a test for the New York City Marathon next month and is looking for a time below 70 minutes. She holds the Half Marathon course record with 1:08:51, set in 2008.
After a nine-year hiatus, the races will once again finish in front of the city’s famous cathedral.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF