Kenyan Benson Barus wins Rome-Ostia Half Marathon (Alberto Zorzi) © Copyright

Barus and Genovese attract the spotlight for Sunday’s Turin Marathon - preview

Kenyan Benson Barus and Italy's Bruna Genovese will start as the favourites at the Turin Marathon Gran Premio La Stampa on Sunday (19). The Turin Marathon, which sets off from Piazza Castello at 9.15 in the heart of the Piedmont city, is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

Barus - following the footsteps of high profile training partners?

Barus has prepared for Turin in the Eldoret training camp with his training partners Robert Cheruiyot and recent Rotterdam 2:04:27 performers Duncan Kibet and James Kwambai under the guidance of Italian coach Claudio Berardelli and is aiming at a sub-2:08 performance in Turin.

Barus, a former IAAF World Junior champion in the 10,000 metres in Annecy 1998, ran his marathon PB of 2:08:34 in Milan in his debut over the distance in 2006 and also has a 2:08:57 performance to his credit from Frankfurt in 2008. During the 2008 season Barus also ran a very fast 59:41 at the Udine Half-Marathon. The Kenyan has won many road races in Italy like the Giro di Castelbuono, the Golden Shoe in Vigevano, the Amatrice Configno and the Trofeo Sant’Agata during his career. He tested his shape at last month’s Brescia Art Marathon where he acted as a pacemaker for the first 30 km.

Barus will face his fellow countrymen Philemon Tarbei, the Turin winner 2007; Joseph Kimosop Lomala, third in Turin with his 2:10:22 PB and winner in Venice in 2008; Thomas Chemitei (PB 2:09:21); and Benjamin Kipchumba (PB 2:09:23). Elisha Meli, winner at the Turin 2008 Half Marathon, will run his debut in the Piedmont city.

Ethiopia will be represented by Urige Arado Buta, fourth at this year’s Roma-Ostia Half Marathon in 1:02:46.

The Italian challenge will be led by Ruggero Pertile, one of the very few Italian marathon runners who can battle against the Kenyans at a moment in a transitional period for Italian Marathon running after the end of the glorious Stefano Baldini’s era crowned with his legendary Olympic gold medal in Athens 2004. Pertile, a former Rome Marathon winner in 2004 and 15th at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, tested his shape with his recent sixth place at the Stramilano Half Marathon and is aiming at improving his 2:10:12 set in Rome after a good training stint in Kenya with the group coached by Claudio Berardelli. Pertile will decide whether he will take part at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin after the Turin Marathon.

Genovese leads the women’s field

While Italian men’s marathon running is still searching for the heirs of Gelindo Bordin and Baldini, the women have recently produced good results like Anna Incerti’s in Milan last November. On Sunday Bruna Genovese will make her comeback to the Marathon distance eight months after completing her last marathon in Beijing last summer where she finished 17th. Genovese, who is coached by former Marathon star Salvatore Bettiol, prepared for Torino at altitude in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Genovese boasts a good career in top Marathon races with a third place in Boston in 2005 followed one year later by a fourth place in the legendary US race in her PB of 2:25:28. The runner from Montebelluna near Treviso won her favourite Tokyo Marathon in 2:26:34 in 2004 and returned to the Japanese capital in 2007 where she finished third in 2:27:35. In major events Genovese finished tenth at the 2004 Olympic Games fifth at the 2006 European Championships.

Torino will mark the return after some injury problems for Genovese who has recently announced that she will not take part at the World Championships in Berlin and instead she will focus on her preparation to the New York City Marathon. She recently finished fourth at the Stramilano in 1:12:44.

Genovese will battle for Italian supremacy against Rosaria Console and Vincenza Sicari. Console came back last autumn winning the Carpi Marathon in 2:30:44 after giving birth to her first daughter Francesca. Console, the wife of Italian top marathon runner Daniele Caimmi, won the Vienna Marathon in 2004 in 2:29:22 and finished second in Paris in 2003 in her PB of 2:27:48.

Sicari has very good memories of Torino where she won last year dipping for the first time in her career under the 2:30 barrier with 2:29:50 which earned her a berth on the Italian Olympic team.

The African challenge is led by Kenyan Agnes Kiprop, who prepared for Turin with her prominent training partners Helena Kiprop, Lidia Cheromei, Salina Kosgei and Mary Keitany. Ethiopian runners Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene and Ameleowrk Fikadu Bosho could produce some surprising results.

Oksana Sklyarenko from Ukraine, third in Turin in 2008, and Russian Natalia Sokolova lead the East European challenge.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF