Patrick Terer will return to defend his Volkswagen Prague Marathon title on 3 May, the organisers of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race announced on Tuesday (14).
The relationship between the prestigious marathon in the Czech capital and the Kenyan goes back to 2013 when Terer arrived in Prague late and just ahead of the race after problems acquiring a visa.
Despite an exhausting and anxious journey, Terer ran strongly and finished third with a personal best of 2:10:10.
“Many thanks to the organisers for bringing me to Prague. Next year I’ll come back and win,” said Terer afterwards and he duly delivered last year.
In 2014, and despite adverse weather conditions, he again ran a personal best of 2:08:07 and made a fresh promise at the press conference.
“I’d been hoping for a time between 2:07:30 and 2:07:50 and failed. But if I can run here next year, I promise I’ll run 2:07:00.”
Now it remains to be seen whether Terer can deliver on this particular promise.
The 24-year-old has won a race every year over the classic distance ever since his first marathon in 2012.
Three years ago he triumphed on his debut in Turin with 2:10:34. In 2013, he won in Turin again, improving his time to 2:08:52, and in 2014 he won in Prague.
Kirui looking to be a contender
Among Terer’s rivals on 3 May will be a runner who has also been highly successful in Prague: Peter Kirui.
The Kenyan won the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon last year with a world-class time of 59:22.
A few weeks later he returned to Prague and did an excellent job as a pacemaker for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, setting the tempo for Terer and the other top runners until shortly after the 30km marker.
Thanks to that, the 27-year-old already knows the course of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon very well and his best time for the marathon is considerably faster than Terer’s; in 2011 he ran 2:06:31 for sixth place in Frankfurt.
Another Kenyan who could play a major role is Evans Chebet. The 26-year-old was second behind Terer in Prague last year, improving his best time by more than three minutes to 2:08:17.
He went even better than that at the Seoul Marathon last autumn, running 2:07:46, again for second place. But it’s a runner from Ethiopia who can claim the distinction of having the fastest personal best among Prague’s elite field.
Deribe Robi improved his time by more than a minute in Dubai this year to 2:06:06.
Another strong Ethiopian is Teferi Kebede, who ran his best time of 2:07:35 in the 2012 Tiberias Marathon in Israel.
The women’s competition has the makings of an all-Ethiopian contest. The organisers have announced the participation of three fast Ethiopian women who have already shown high quality form this year and run personal bests.
Yebrqual Melese will arrive in Prague as the champion of the Houston Marathon, where she brought her best time down to 2:23:23 in January. Little more than two weeks ago, she was second at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, another IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in 1:08:21.
Tadelech Bekele ran even faster in Dubai in the same month with 2:22:51 which earned her seventh place in a race of great strength in depth while Ashete Bekere improved to 2:23:43 and took 10h place in Dubai.
Bekere is also familiar with the Volkswagen Prague Marathon; she was third last year with a time of 2:28:04.
Organisers for the IAAF