Defending champion Priscilla Kipruto Chepatiy and winners of the 2015 edition, Li Zicheng and Chen Linming of China, will all return to the 2019 Beverly Wuxi Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (24).
Last year Chepatiy came from nowhere to notch her 2:33:34 victory in the southeastern Chinese city in what was just her first official race over the classic distance, while Chen took the top honours in 2015 with a 2:51:43 clocking.
Both Chepatiy and Chen will face stiff challenge on Sunday to retain the women’s title as the organisers have assembled a quality field aiming to break the course record of 2:29:17 set by Ayelu Abebe Hordofa of Ethiopia in 2017.
China’s Zhu Xiaolin, who celebrated her 35th birthday last month, owns the fastest personal best in the field. She clocked 2:23:57 to finish third at the 2002 Beijing Marathon and has registered more than ten sub-2:30 performances. She finished fourth in 2:27:16 at the Beijing Olympic Games but has been off the radar since finishing fifth in 2:24:48 at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
While Zhu’s competitiveness remains to be tested, Japan’s Miharu Shimokado is arguably the most in-form woman in the entry list. The 28-year-old owns a PB of 2:27:54 set in Nagoya two years ago and came close to that mark last July when she finish fourth at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:29:38. She returned to Nagoya two weeks ago with a 2:33:34 clocking.
The field also includes Esther Macharia of Kenya, past winner of the Graz, Bregenz, Dublin, Lyon and Bresica Marathons, who just improved her career best to 2:30:46 in Hefei last November.
The men’s course record is 2:12:47, set by Ethiopian Berga Birhanu Bekele last year, also looks vulnerable as the 28-year-old local favorite Li, the 2015 winner with a PB of 2:13:12, will face four sub-2:10 runners on Sunday.
The start list is led by Kenya’s Sylvester Teimet, who has a 2:06:49 PB to his name. His career record includes wins in Gongju, Seoul and Shanghai but the 34-year-old hasn’t dipped under 2:10 since 2013.
Ethiopia’s Siraj Amda Gena is the next fastest with a PB of 2:08:31 set in 2011, followed by countryman Werkunesh Seyoun, whose lifetime best of 2:09:25 was achieved from his fifth finish in Rome two years ago. Gena’s most recent outing was a 2:14:18 victory at the Turin Marathon last November while Seyoun will be keen to bounce back from his lackluster 13th finish in 2:18:51 at February’s Hong Kong Marathon.
Olivier Irabaruta of Burundi is another man to watch. The 28-year-old clocked 2:09:48 in his debut to finish second at the Porto Marathon four months ago.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF