After a very hot race last year Rotterdam awaits the 28th edition of the Fortis Marathon - IAAF Silver Label - hoping for better weather conditions as well as an improvement on the course record Felix Limo of Kenya set four years ago with a time of 2:06:14.
The weather forecast for Sunday is very good: temperature between 10-12 degrees, moderate wind and a little chance of rain.
“It was hot in 2007,” said last year’s winner Joshua Chelanga during a press conference on Thursday.
“I want to defend my title here. The weather forecast now is far better than a year ago.”
The Kenyan who won in 2:08:21 last year despite the hot weather and went on to win the Seoul marathon (2:08:14) is full of confidence.
“I trained well and feel that I am in a good shape.”
During the press conference he was asked what he preferred: winning in 2:07-2:08 or finishing fifth in 2:05. The answer came quick: both. Winning and a time under 2:06!
But Chelanga will be in very good company this Sunday. Five of his opponents have a personal best under 2:07 and another five have a PB under 2:08.
Deep Kenyan field with Maiyo, Kibiwott, Muindi and Co…
The start in Rotterdam will be fast with a half marathon split between 1:02:40 and 1:03:00. On the southern part of the course they will go the other way round compared with previous years. With this course change the runners will have the most south western wind in the back.
One of the dark horses in the race is Benjamin Maiyo, who runs his first marathon in Europe. The African has never won a marathon but finished three times second in a race over 42.195 metres. Het set his personal best in 2005 in Chicago with 2:07:09.
A lot is expected of Francis Kibiwott who will run his first marathon on the proven fast course of Rotterdam. Kibiwott trains with Charles Kamathi, who will run his second marathon in Rotterdam.
The most experienced runner in the strong field is Jimmy Muindi, he will run his 34th marathon. He knows the course well as he won Rotterdam three years ago in his personal best of 2:07:50.
Paul Kiprop has also good memories of Rotterdam. The East-African did set his PB two years ago in Rotterdam, finishing second to compatriot Sammy Korir in 2:06:44.
The name Limo is well known in Rotterdam as Felix Limo set the course record. Another Limo, Richard, is running his third marathon in Rotterdam. The former World 5000m champion set a personal best of 2:06:45 in Amsterdam where the weather conditions on October 21st were nearly ideal. Limo finished second in Amsterdam.
“I have trained very well with Salim Kipsang. I missed several weeks of training due to the problems in Kenya but I am in a good shape. It is nice to have my training partner Salim here. We can and will help each other in the race.”
The standard of the women's race is not as high as the men's field. Rotterdam has four women with a personal best under 2:28, namely Malgorzata Sobanska (Pol, 2:26:08), Lyubov Morgunova (Rus, 2:26:33), Alice Chelagat (Ken, 2:27:29) and Zekiros Adanech (Eth, 2:27:38).
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
Leading contenders (with bib numbers)
(2) Robert Cheboror (Kenya) PB: 2.06.23
(3) William Kipsang (Kenya) PB: 2.06.39
(5) Paul Kiprop Kirui (Kenya) PB:2.06.44
(4) Richard Limo (Kenya) PB: 2.06.45
(6) Driss el Himer (France) PB: 2.06.48
(1) Joshua Chelanga (Kenya) PB: 2.07.05
(7) Benjamin Maiyo (Kenya) PB: 2.07.09
(8) Salim Kipsang (Kenya) PB: 2.07.29
(9) Rodgers Rop (Kenya) PB: 2.07.32
(10) Jimmy Muindi (Kenya) PB: 2.07.50
(11) Joseph Ngolepus (Kenya) PB: 2.07.57
(12) Daniel Kipkoech Yego (Kenya) PB: 2.08.16
(15) Elijah Chemwolo Mutai (Kenya) PB: 2.09.27
(16) Daniel Rono (Kenya) PB: 2.09.36
(18) Luc Krotwaar (The Netherlands) PB: 2.10.13
(19) Norman Dlomo (South Africa) PB: 2.10.39
(20) Charles Kamathi (Kenya) PB: 2.11.25
(21) Tom van Hooste (Belgium) PB: 2.11.55
(17) Francis Kibiwott (Kenya) debut
(F1) Malgorzata Sobanska (Poland) PB: 2.26.08
(F2) Ljubov Morgunova (Rusland) PB: 2.26.33
(F3) Alice Chelagat (Kenya) PB: 2.27.29
(F4) Zekiros Adanech (Ethiopia) PB 2.27.38
(F5) Shiru Deriba (Ethiopia) PB: 2.30.30