A field boasting a slew of Olympic medallists, world champions and world record holders will help celebrate the 20th anniversary running of the Bogota Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, in the Colombian capital on Sunday (28).
The favourite in the women’s race is Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, who started the year with a win in the Dubai Marathon, setting a course record with the No. 3 performance of all-time, 2:17:08. And just three months before that she shattered the course record at the Istanbul Marathon with a 2:18:35 performance. Those performances elevated the Kenyan to No.1 in the IAAF’s world rankings in the marathon. Also an accomplished half marathoner, Chepngetich won the Istanbul Half Marathon this April in another course record, 1:05:30, making her the 11th fastest woman of all-time to rank her No.3 currently over that distance.
The main challenge to Chepngetich is likely to come from Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, the marathon bronze medallist at the Rio Olympic Games and world champion over the distance in 2015. Also expected to feature at the front of the race are 2:21:37 marathoner Visiline Jepkesho of Kenya, recently announced as a member of the Kenyan squad for the Worlds Championships (along with Chepngetich), and Helalia Johannes of Namibia, who is undefeated in six major international competitions, all of which have seen her lower her own national records at 10km, the half marathon and full marathon distances.
Unlike the women’s race, the men’s competition doesn’t have one overwhelming favourite, and instead should see a tight battle between several evenly-matched competitors. The Ethiopian delegation is led by 20-year-old Betesfa Getahun of Ethiopia, the defending men’s champion, who last year became the youngest champion in the race history. Next to him will be Feyisa Lilesa, the silver medallist at the Rio Olympic Games marathon and a former winner of this race and Tamirat Tola, a silver medallist in the 2017 World Championships marathon and a bronze medallist in the 10,000m in Rio.
The Kenyan challenge to this Ethiopian trio will be led by Lawrence Cherono, a 2:04:06 marathoner and the No. 5 athlete in the world presently at that distance. He is joined by two strong half marathon specialists, Wilfred Kimitei (59:40) and John Lotiang (1:00:09). And rounding out the likely lead pack are Eritrean Samuel Tsegay, a past silver medallist at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, and Ugandan Abdallah Mande with a 1:00:14 lifetime best whose strong current form was illustrated by a 27:22 10,000m run just eight days ago.
Organisers for the IAAF
Seboka and Chumba ready to clash in Liupanshui
The 2019 Liupanshui Summer International Marathon will witness the best field ever in the race’s seven-year history as Ethiopia’s Mulu Seboka and Eunice Chumba of Bahrain face-off for the women’s title and a course record assault at this IAAF Bronze Label road race on Sunday (28).
Seboka is the fastest woman on paper thanks to her career best of 2:21:56 set in Dubai in 2015. Although Seboka will make her competitive debut in this southwest Chinese city with an average altitude of some 1800 metres above sea level, the 34-year-old has gained adequate experience running in China with victories in Dalian and Shenzhen.
Given that her latest 15 races over the classic distance since 2014 were all faster than 2:36, including 12 sub-2:30 performances, Seboka also stands a big chance to beat the 2:36:49 course record set last year by Kenya’s Naomi Jepkogei Maiyo.
Chumba, 26, should be Seboka’s biggest threat. She achieved her personal best of 2:24:27 from her runner-up finish at the 2017 Rotterdam Marathon. She came close to that mark with her second place finish at Beijing last year in 2:26:56. More recently, she clocked 2:30:02 in Hong Kong this February.
Sechale Dalasa is another woman to watch. Although her PB of 2:26:27 dates back to 2012, the 27-year-old has remained has dipped under the 2:30 barrier each year since, most recently clocking 2:28:46 to finish fifth in Houston in January.
The field also includes local runner He Yinli, a 2:27:35 performer, and Lilia Fisikovici of Moldova, who improved her lifetime best by one minute to 2:27:26 in London three months ago.
The men’s course record of 2:16:10 set by Kenya’s Kipsaat Mathew last year also looks vulnerable as the organisers have attracted ten sub-2:10 runners.
Philip Kimutai Sanga of Kenya is the fastest with a PB of 2:06:07 registered back in 2011. The 35-year-old has been struggling to return to his best form in recent years as his last sub-2:10 performance was achieved in 2016 at the Ljubljana Marathon.
Sanga’s compatriot Sylvester Kimeli Teimet, also 35, has a fast PB of 2:06:49 set from his victory at the 2010 Seoul International Marathon. The vastly-experienced runner also took top honours in Shanghai in 2012. He contested his last nine marathon races in China but will be running in Liupanshui for the first time.
Kenya’s Robert Kipkemboi is arguably the most in-form runner as the 31-year-old trimmed more than two minutes off his PB to finish fifth in Seoul four month ago with a 2:07:09 clocking.
Samuel Kiplimo Kosgei is another serious title contender from the Kenyan contingent. The 33-year-old clocked 2:07:07 to win the 2015 Kosice Marathon and achieved his PB of 2:06:53 one year later. His most recent performance was a sixth place finish in Sevilla in 2:09:28 this February.
Other sub-2:10 runners toeing the line include Ethopia’s Abdi Fufa, former Taiyuan Marathon winner Evans Sambu of Kenya, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Sitkovskyy and Beraki Beyene of Eritrea.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF