This weekend’s Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon will incorporate the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships, meaning a stellar line-up of the world’s best endurance athletes will line up for the IAAF Silver Label road race in Cardiff on Sunday (7).
The Welsh capital will prove a familiar stage for Kenya’s John Lotiang, who set a course record of 1:00:42 at last year’s event.
Kenyan athletes have dominated the Cardiff Half Marathon over the past decade, with 14 of the 16 most recent winners coming from the East African nation. Lotiang will be joined by teammates Joseph Nzioki and Daniel Muteti as the Kenyan team eye up a second successive 1-2-3.
Uganda, led by 2015 world mountain running champion Fred Musobu, could prove to be the biggest threat to Kenya. Musobu set a PB of 1:01:38 at this year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and he will be joined in Cardiff by compatriots Felix Chemonges, a 1:01:46 performer this year, and African 10,000m bronze medallist Timothy Toroitich.
Dewi Griffiths, who clocked a lifetime best of 1:01:33 in Cardiff last year, leads the Welsh team. He will be joined by Josh Griffiths, the top British finisher at the 2017 London Marathon, and the in-form Kristian Jones.
Felicien Muhitira and Noel Hitimana lead a strong Rwandan presence, while Australia’s Jack Rayner and Dejen Gebreselassie have made the trip from the other side of the world to contend for podium places.
Rwanda’s Salome Nyirarukundo is the fastest entrant in the women’s race. Still only 20 years old, she clocked a half marathon PB of 1:08:48 back in February and recently set a national record of 2:28:02 on her marathon debut in Montreal two weeks ago.
But she’ll face stiff opposition in Cardiff from a strong Kenyan squad that includes 2014 Commonwealth marathon champion Flomena Cheyech Daniel and 1:09:01 performer Delvine Meringor.
Gemma Steel, the 2014 European cross-country champion, is joined on the England team by World Championships representative Tracy Barlow, while 2016 European 5000m bronze medallist Steph Twell will don the Scottish vest as she contests her first half marathon for five years.
Australia’s Commonwealth 5000m and 10,000m finalist Celia Sullohern has raced just one half marathon in her career, but the PBs she has set over the past 12 months for 5000m, 10,000m and the marathon suggest she is capable of running much faster than her official 1:17:26 personal best.
Jenny Nesbitt, who has set personal bests at 5000m and four miles in recent weeks, spearheads the Welsh team.
Kerio and Jerotich return to Kosice
Kenya’s Reuben Kerio and Sheila Jerotich, the 2017 Kosice Peace Marathon champions, will defend their titles at the IAAF Silver Label road race on Sunday (7).
The city played host to the 1997 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and its marathon course is predominantly flat and fast. The men’s course record of 2:07:01 was set in 2012 by Kenya’s Lawrence Kimaiyo, while Jerotich broke the women’s course record last year with her 2:27:34 victory.
Kerio won in Kosice last year with a PB of 2:08:12, the third-fastest winning time in the history of the event. Earlier this year he finished eighth against a quality field in Daegu in 2:11:02 and this weekend he will be aiming to become the first man to successfully defend a Kosice Marathon title since David Kariuki in 2002.
Kerio is one of seven men in this year’s race with a PB faster than 2:10.
Compatriot Japhet Collins Kosgei Tanui also set his PB in Kosice, clocking 2:08:08 to finish second in 2015. He went on to win the Dusseldorf Marathon in 2016 but hasn’t achieved podium finishes in any marathons since then.
Raymund Kipchumba Choge placed fifth in Kosice last year, finishing inside 2:10. If he can get close to his 2:08:39 PB from his 2016 Cologne Marathon win, it might be enough to win.
Douglas Chebii has the fastest season’s best of this year’s entries, having clocked a PB of 2:08:43 to finish fifth in Seville back in February. Ezekiel Omullo’s PB of 2:08:55 is only slightly slower. He won in Warsaw for the third time earlier this year in 2:11:17.
Kenyan men have won the past nine editions of the Kosice Marathon, but Ethiopian trio Afewerk Mesfin, Birhanu Bekele and Aychew Bantie – all with sub-2:10 PBs – will be hoping to put an end to that streak.
Two months after placing 21st in the marathon at the European Championships, Poland’s Akradiusz Gardzielewski will line up on Sunday as the top European contender. Jozef Urban and Tibor Sahajda lead the Slovak contingent.
Since winning in Kosice last year, Jerotich placed fourth in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games and more recently won the Minsk Half Marathon. The 29-year-old has promised to attack her own course record of 2:27:34.
Her main opposition looks set to come from Ethiopia’s 2:28:02 performer Tizita Terecha, Kenya’s Milliam Ebongon, who set a half marathon PB of 1:10:34 in Hamburg three months ago, and Nina Savina of Belarus, who finished 12th at the European Championships in a PB of 2:33:50.
The oldest marathon in Europe, which celebrates its 95 edition this year, and its associated races this weekend are expecting 13,848 participants, which would be a record for an event of this kind in Slovakia.
Olympic 50km race walk champion Matej Toth and Olympic modern pentathlon champion David Svooboda of the Czech Republic will participate in a special Czecho-Slovak relay alongside Svoboda’s twin brother Tomas and Slovak Athletics Federation president Peter Korcok, Toth’s brother-in-law.
Organisers for the IAAF