Massive 2:07:37 PB for Teshome Gelana in Houston (Victah Sailer) © Copyright

Course record assaults in the works at the Paris Half Marathon - preview

A course records could be in the works at Sunday’s 18th running of the Semi Marathon de Paris, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.

Four men in the field have run we under the 1:00:22 course standard set by Kenyan Joseph Maregu in 2007, indicating that the one-hour barrier could be broken if conditions cooperate in the French capital.

On paper the fastest is Dieudonne Disi of Rwanda, a regular fixture on the French road race scene, who has a 59:32 performance to his credit from the 2007 World Road Running Championships in Udine, Italy, where he finished a solid sixth in a very deep race.  In October the 31-year-old won the 20.3Km Marseille-Cassis Road Race

Other sub-one hour men in the field include Jairus Chanchima of Kenya who clocked 59:43 in Lille last year, and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa who just dipped under the mark (59:59) in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

Certain to be in the mix are a pair of sub-2:08 marathoners who will be making their debuts over the shorter distance, according to organisers. Teshome Gelana, who produced a noteworthy 2:07:37 victory in the Houston Marathon this year, returns to action. His run on 17 January was a career changer for the Ethiopian who improved by more than four minutes on his previous personal best. His compatriot Terfe Negari’s sub-2:08 was set last fall in Berlin’s city marathon, where he clocked 2:07:41 for a strong third. He took to the roads again on 2 January, finishing second in the Xiamen Marathon in 2:09:40.

The women’s field features a trio of sub-1:10 runners, led by Ethiopian Atsede Baysa. Baysa produced her personal best of 1:09:15 on the fast course in Udine, Italy, at the 2007 World Road Running Championships where she finished 11th.  The 22-year-old has already achieved noteworthy success in the Marathon, collecting wins in Paris (2:24:42) last year and in Xiamen (2:28:53) this year. Obviously, she is no stranger to the avenues and boulevards of Paris.

On paper her compatriot Tsegaye Beyene is just a few steps behind with a 1:09:24 best to her credit, a run that brought her a notable sixth place showing at last year’s World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham.

Others to watch include Kenyan Gladys Cherono (1:09:26) whose personal best came in Valladolid, Spain, last year. Ethiopians Melkam Gisaw and Halima Beriso, still teenagers, will be making their debuts over the distance. Gisaw has a 2:31:55 Marathon best from Reims last year where she was second.

The women’s course record is 1:09:37 set by Alina Tecuta of Romania back in 1997.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF