One year after Kenenisa Bekele broke the course record on his debut at the classic distance, organisers of the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon have assembled another star-studded field for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on 12 April.
Leading the way is Kenya’s Moses Mosop, owner of the fastest marathon debut in history – and one of the quickest marathon runs of all time – with his 2:03:06 clocking on Boston’s point-to-point course in 2011.
After a couple of years hindered by injury, Mosop returned to winning ways earlier this year with a world-leading clocking of 2:06:19 at the Xiamen Marathon, setting a Chinese all-comers’ record. His best on a record-eligible course is 2:05:03, one second quicker than Bekele’s course record set in Paris last year.
He will be joined on the start-line by fellow Kenyan Vincent Kipruto, who won in Paris back in 2009. He has a PB of 2:05:13 and took the silver medal in the marathon at the 2011 IAAF World Championships.
When Kipruto won in the French capital six years ago, Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku finished second in 2:06:15, the fastest ever performance by a junior at the time. Having improved to 2:05:25 and twice won the Houston Marathon, Worku returns to the Paris Marathon looking to go one better than in 2009.
Ethiopia’s Deressa Chimsa is the fourth sub-2:06 man in the field. The 2012 world half-marathon silver medallist has a marathon PB of 2:05:42 and has won marathons on three different continents, triumphing in Prague, Toronto, Daegu and Guangzhou.
Other sub-2:07 runners set to compete in Paris include Toronto Marathon champion Laban Korir of Kenya, former Frankfurt Marathon winner Gilbert Kirwa, 2014 Frankfurt runner-up Mike Kigen, former Dusseldorf Marathon champion Seboka Tola of Ethiopia and 2012 Paris runner-up Raji Assefa.
The French challenge is led by Olympian Abdellatif Meftah, a 2:09:46 runner at best who will be competing in his third Paris Marathon. He is joined by compatriots Jean Damascene Habarurema and marathon debutant Yassine Mandour.
Duarte faces tough challenge on debut
Overwhelmingly so, the local interest will be focused on the marathon debut of 2013 European cross-country champion Sophie Duarte. The 33-year-old, who still holds the French steeplechase record of 9:25.62, has never contested a race farther than 10km.
But that will be the least of her worries as she will be up against a quartet of women with sub-2:24 PBs, all of which are within a minute of each other.
Mulu Seboka is the fastest of those. The vastly experienced Ethiopian will be contesting her 33rd marathon and is showing no signs of slowing down. She won all three of her marathons in 2014, clocking a PB of 2:23:15 in her most recent victory.
Kenya’s former world half-marathon silver medallist Philes Ongori is also in the field. Although she finished ninth in Boston last year, she did so in 2:23:22, breaking the PB she had set on her debut at the distance three years prior.
Duarte isn’t the only former steeplechaser in the field. Olena Shurhno ditched the barriers in 2005 in favour of the roads and now holds the Ukrainian marathon record at 2:23:32.
Ethiopia’s Amane Gobena is a previous winner in Seoul, Osaka, Santa Monica, Toronto, Istanbul and Xiamen. With a best of 2:23:50, she will be looking to improve on her seventh-place finish from the 2013 edition of the Paris Marathon.
Organisers for the IAAF
Elite field (with PBs)
Moses Mosop (KEN) 2:05:03 (2:03:06)
Vincent Kipruto (KEN) 2:05:13
Bazu Worku (ETH) 2:05:25
Deressa Chimsa (ETH) 2:05:42
Laban Korir (KEN) 2:06:05
Gilbert Kirwa (KEN) 2:06:14
Seboka Tola (ETH) 2:06:17
Raji Assefa (ETH) 2:06:24
Mike Kigen (KEN) 2:06:59
Abdellatif Meftah (FRA) 2:09:46
Jean Damascene Habarurema (FRA) 2:12:40
Yassine Mandour (FRA) debut
Mulu Seboka (ETH) 2:23:13
Philes Ongori (KEN) 2:23:22
Olena Shurhno (UKR) 2:23:32
Amane Gobena (ETH) 2:23:50
Sophie Duarte (FRA) debut