Two years ago the eDreams Mitja Marato Barcelona was ‘just’ an IAAF Bronze Label road race. After being upgraded to a Silver Label 12 months ago, this year’s event on Sunday 11 February will be held as an IAAF Gold Label road race after being upgraded again.
1:00:04 the target
At the pre-race press conference, the organisers confirmed that a deep quality men’s field has been assembled in a quest to break the 1:00:04 course record set in 2013 by Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge.
Defending champion Leonard Langat, holder of a 59:18 PB set in Rome a couple of years ago, is the fastest entrant. But the 27-year-old Kenyan will need to improve on his most recent outing – a 1:04:15 run in Egmond Aan Zee – to be in the hunt for victory on Sunday.
Langat, who won last year in 1:00:52, will compete against fellow Kenyans Meshack Koech who clocked a career best of 1:00:07 in Lille last September, and Jonah Chesum, winner of last year’s Barcelona Marathon in a PB of 2:08:57.
Despite a relatively modest 1:02:04 PB, Chesum is feeling confident ahead of this weekend’s race. “The line-up is strong but I think I have winning chances,” he said. “I’ll go for it.”
Moses Kurong is another serious contender. In addition to his track pedigree – he represented Uganda in the 10,000m at the 2017 World Championships and 2016 Olympics – the 23-year-old boasts a 59:50 PB, set in Copenhagen last September.
He will be joined by young compatriot Abdallah Mande, who clocked a PB of 1:00:51 in Breda last October.
The Ethiopian charge will be headed by Mule Wasihun leads the Ethiopian charge. He has yet to better the 60-minute barrier for the half marathon, but set a marathon PB of 2:05:39 in Amsterdam last October and should be a factor on Sunday.
Compatriot Azmeraw Mengistu will feel confident when he stands on the start line; he set his 1:00:48 PB when finishing third in Barcelona back in 2015.
The entry list also includes Britain’s Jonny Mellor, Switzerland’s Julien Wanders and Spain’s Carlos Castillejo. Kenyan pacemaker Alex Kibarus will aim to lead the field through 10 kilometres in 28:30.
Daba the favourite
Tejitu Daba leads the women’s field. The Bahraini runner set a PB of 1:08:21 in Lille last September and has twice won at this distance on the streets of Spain, winning in Madrid in 2017 and 2016.
Compatriot Mimi Belete, a former 1500m specialist who finished seventh at the 2011 World Championships, will aim to improve on her career best of 1:09:15 while Susan Jeptoo Kipsang, a 1:09:02 performer, will have the difficult task of replacing Florence Kiplagat as the top-placed Kenyan on Sunday.
Kiplagat has dominated the past four editions of this race, setting world records of 1:05:12 in 2014 and 1:05:09 in 2015, but she won’t be racing in Barcelona this weekend.
Watch out too for Ethiopia’s Dibabe Kuma, Rwanda’s Salome Nyirarukundu and USA’s Lindsey Scherf.
No fewer than 16,500 runners have signed up to run on Sunday. Weather forecasters predict quite a cold day, with temperatures between 5-7C for the time of the event, no chance of rain and a slight wind.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF