Felix Limo (KEN) wins the 2004 Fortis Rotterdam Marathon (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Felix Limo: “Let the road decide” – Rotterdam Marathon PREVIEW

Felix Limo, last year’s winner of the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon in 2:06:14, the world's fastest time of the year in 2004, spoke philosophically on Thursday (7 April) at the end of the official race press conference for this Sunday's 25th edition of the event (10 April).

”Let the road decide,” said the smiling Kenyan to a full packed room. With fifteen runners who have run faster times than 2:11:00 for the distance, Rotterdam with its very fast course has assembled the strongest starting field in its history.

An historic gathering of past winners

In those 25 years the World records (bests when set) have been broken for men (twice) and women on the Rotterdam course. 1984 Olympic champion Carlos Lopes (POR) ran 2:07:12 in 1985, Belayneh Densamo (ETH) then strode in 1988 to 2:06:50 which stood as the quickest clocking in the world for ten years, and Tegla Loroupe (KEN), who ran 2:20:47 in 1998, all attended today’s press conference. Also present were other previous winners John Graham (GBR), Fabian Roncero (ESP), William Kiplagat  and Limo (KEN), Rosa Mota (POR) and Carla Beurskens (NED). All these stars were each presented with a large picture of their victory.

MEN – a Kenyan fight

The expectation for the 25th edition is a struggle between the Kenyans. William Kiplagat, who won Rotterdam in 2003, said “I do not predict anything. I know I have trained well for this race. in my opinion I ran my best marathon here in Rotterdam. Of course I hope to win again this year but I have very strong opponents. Moreover a marathon is a marathon and anything can happen.”

Another Kenyan, Titus Munji with a personal best of 2.06.15, said “I’m in very good shape. My best time is only one second slower then Felix Limo’s 2.06.14.  I’m looking forward to a fight with him. I hoped for a long time to be able to run in Rotterdam as I heard it is a very fast course. When the weather is good here it is possible to run around 2:05.”

Munji’s compatriot Jimmy Muindi, 31, four-times a winner of the Honolulu Marathon is also confident. “I heard a lot about the course here. I trained well and I will go for a fast time.”

Jackson Koech will run his first marathon in Rotterdam.  Koech, who trains with Felix Limo, said “last year in Berlin, where Felix Limo won, I was his pacemaker till around 35km. This time I go on till the end.”  Notably on 6 March Koech was only one second behind Limo in the 20 kilometres race in Alphen. Limo won in 58:34.

Felix Limo is the absolute favourite for Sunday’s race. “After my victory in the Berlin Marathon last September I have only trained for this marathon. I love Rotterdam, I have so far run only one race this year. It was the 20km in Alphen. I did beat my training partner Jackson Koech there. We have prepared for this marathon together so we both know what we have done. I can assure you we have done a lot of training. Let the road decide.’

The dark horse in the race could be Spaniard Jose Manuel ‘Chema” Martinez, who has twice finished second in Rotterdam (2002 and 2003). “I run here after a very good preparation during the winter.”                             
WOMEN - Lornah Kiplagat is the hot favourite despite a cold

Lornah Kiplagat the former Kenyan but now a Dutchwoman is the hot favourite for the women’s race. She did not attend the press conference as she was nursing a cold. Her husband and manager Pieter Langerhorst confirmed, “she caught a cold but will be ok for Sunday. Lornah wants to break her personal best of 2:22:22 (then she was still of Kenyan nationality) and if she does she will also break the Dutch record (2.23.43). Lornah is well prepared and she wants to run a negative split.”

Fumi Murata of Japan will be the toughest contender for Kiplagat although her personal best is nearly eight minutes slower than that of the favourite. Aside Kiplagat there are also two other sub-2:30 competitors - Ana Dias (Portugal) and Nadja Wijenberg (The Netherlands).

The race will start Sunday at 11.00 hours (GMT + 2). The weather forecast is not that good. It will be 10 to 12 degrees CT, rain possible, and a wind of 3 m/sec. The race incorporates the marathon championships of The Netherlands.

Wim van Hemert for the IAAF

The field is:

Felix Limo  (Kenya)
D.o.B: 22-08-1980
PB: 2:06:14  Rotterdam  04-04-2004 (course record)
The split times of his personal best:
15.16-29.56-44.52-59.49-1.03.12 (half)-1.15.13-1.29.59-1.44.21-1.59.47-2.06.14                                                                

Titus Munji  (Kenya)
D.o.B: 1980
PB:  2:06:15  Berlin        28-09-2003
The splittimes of his personal best:

William Kiplagat (Kenya)
D.o.B: 21-06-1974
PB:  2:06:50            Amsterdam 17-10-1999

José Manuel -Chema- Martinez (Spain)
D.o.B: 22-10-1971
PR : 2:08:09  Rotterdam   13-04-2003

Christopher Cheboiboch (Kenya)
D.o.B: 03-03-1977
PB:  2:08:17  New York   03-11-2002

Tadeyuki Ojima (Japan)
D.o.B: 22-11-1976
PB: 2:08:18                Otsu             07-03-2004

Jimmy Muindi (Kenya)
D.o.B: 14-08-1973
PB:  2:08:25               Berlin        29-09-2002    

Kamiel Maase (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 21-10-1971
PB: 2:08:31 (NR) Amsterdam 19-10-2003
Splittimes of his Dutch record:

Marilson dos Santos (Brazil)
D.o.B  06-08-1977
PB : 2:08:48               Chicago     10-10-2004

Luis Novo  (Portugal)
D.o.B : 29-05-1970
PB : 2:09:41            Berlin        26-09-2004

Greg van Hest (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 04-06-1973
PB: 2:10:05                 Rotterdam   18-04-1999

Luc Krotwaar (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 25-01-1968
PB: 2:10:13                 Fukuoka     07-12-2003

Kamel  Ziani (Spain)
D.o.B: 20-02-1972
PB: 2:10:18                Amsterdam  02-11-1997

James Rotich (Kenya)
D.o.B: 1980
PB: 2:10:22                 Cologne        12-09-2004

Elijah Chemwolo Mutai (Kenya)
D.o.B: 01-04-1978
PB: 2:10:41     Berlin 29-09-2002
Degene Guta (Ethiopia)
D.o.B:  n.a
PB: 2:10:49                 Dubai          07-01-2005

Godwin Jomo Kororia (Kenya)
D.o.B : 1981
PB: 2:11:07                 Tempe         11-04-2004
Ismaïl Sghyr (France)
D.o.B: 16-03-1972
PB:  2:11:27                  Amsterdam  19-10-2003

Guy Fays (Belgium)
D.o.B: 15-09-1969
PB: 2:13:47                   Eindhoven    08-10-2000

Wilson Kigen (Kenya)
D.o.B: 15-09-1975
PB: 2:13:49 Eindhoven 13-10-2002
Scott Larson (United States)
D.o.B: 24-12-1969
PB: 2:14:11    St. Paul           03-10-2004

Shane Nankervis (Australia)
D.o.B: 06-05-1974
PB:  2:14:39    Otsu               02-03-2003
Gudisa  Shentema (Ethiopia)
D.o.B:  19-06-1980
PB: 2:15:16  Tempe           11-01-2004

Asier Cuevas (Spain)
Geb :  16-01-1973
PB: 2:15:41      Berlin             26-09-2004

Jeroen van Damme (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 29-09-1972       
PB: 2:17:20                  Rotterdam   18-04-1999

Lambros Zaragos (Greece)
D.o.B: n.a
PB: 2:19:21
Dick van de Broek (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 25-03-1971
PB: 2:19:38     Berlin 28-09-1997


Lornah Kiplagat (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 01-05-1974
PB: 2:22:22                  Osaka            26-01-2003
Lornah Kiplagat has a national record marathon with 2:23:43(Nov 2nd 2003, New York.) At that moment she did not have Dutch citizenship.
Splittimes of her Dutch record:
Ana Dias (Portugal)
D.o.B: 15-01-1974
PB: 2:28:49                  Berlin             28-09-2003

Nadja Wijenberg (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 02-04-1964
PB: 2:28:45    Eindhoven 10-10-1999

Fumi Murata (Japan)
D.o.B : 13-03-1975
PB:  2:30:11                 Nagoya          14-03-2004

Marta Fernandez de Castro (Spain)
D.o.B : 19-08-1971
PB: 2:32:53                 Rotterdam    22-04-2001

Tina Maria Ramos (Spain)
D.o.B 28-04-1971
PB: 2:34:05                 Rotterdam   21-04-2002

Catherine Lallemand (Belgium)
D.o.B: 16-08-1979
PB:2:36:06                  Reims         26-10-2003

Anne van Schuppen (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 11-10-1960
PB: 2:31:26                    Rotterdam     28-04-1996

Kristyna Loonen (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 26-07-1970 
PB:  2:36:14                  Rotterdam     20-04-1997

Annelieke van der Sluijs (The Netherlands)
D.o.B: 10-02-1966
PB: 2:36:24                     Almere         04-05-2003

Yeoryia Abatzidou (Greece)
D.o.B: 19-04-1969
PB: 2:36:57                   Berlin         28-09-2003

Fatiha Baouf (Belgium)
D.o.B :15-07-1970
PB : 2:39:41                 Eindhoven     10-10-04