The 2012 edition marks the beginning of a new era for the Firenze Marathon, as the popular Tuscan race will be run on a new course which is expected to be flatter and faster than the previous one. No less than 9000 runners will toe the starting-line in the Lungarno Pecori Giraldi and will cross the finish-line in Piazza Santa Croce in the heart of the worldwide famous Tuscan city. The entry figure makes Florence the second largest Italian Marathon in terms of participation to the event.
The Florence Marathon, scheduled for Sunday 27 November, is an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
The entirely flat course without hills or slopes may help to produce new Florence Marathon records – the current men’s record is 2:08:41 set by James Kutto in 2006 while the women’s record of 2:28:15 has been held by Helena Javornik since 2002).
This fastest man in the field is Ethiopian Teshome Gelana, who ran his career best in Houston in 2010 when he clocked 2:07:37. Gelana finished runner-up in Florence last year in 2:12:41 in a race affected by rainy and cold conditions.
Gelana is coached by Haji Adilo who also trains Firehiwot Dado, who won in Florence last year and then went on to win her third Rome Marathon in a row and made the headlines three weeks ago when she took the honours at the New York City Marathon. [NOTE, 17:00 CET Friday 25-Nov: Gelana has withdrawn from the race.]
The Ethiopian team also features other sub-2:10 runners like Zembaba Yigeze and Berga Birhanu Bekele. Yigeze finished second behind Gelana at the 2010 Houston Marathon in 2:08:27 and seventh in 2:08:48 in Paris 2010. Yigeze holds solid track PBs of 13:24.98 in the 5000m and 27:36.36 in the 10,000m. Bekele dipped under 2:10 in Bejing 2009 (2:09:41) and Dubai 2011 (2:09:54).
The Kenyan challenge is led by Joseph Ngeny, third in Eindhoven in 2:10:10 and in Rome in 2:10:41 in 2009, and Ronald Kipchumba Rutto, 2004 World Junior champion in the 3000m Steeplechase in Grosseto and 2003 World Youth champion in the 2000m steeplechase in Sherbrooke. Kipchumba Rutto starts with a 2:09:17 PB set in Frankfurt in 2010 where he finished seventh.
The fastest woman in the field is Ethiopian Asha Gigi, who ran the fastest time of her career in Paris 2004 when she finished runner-up in 2:26:05. One year later Gigi took third place in Paris in 2:27:38 and clocked 1:09:55 in the Lisbon Half Marathon. She will take on Tigiste Memuye (PB 2:36:17), local favourite Gloria Marconi (PB 2:29:35 set in Rome 2003) who will run in her native city, Moroccan Hanane Janat (PB 2:38:34) and Ireland’s Maria McCambridge (PB 2:35:29 in Paris 2009).
The Florence Marathon programme also features the 2 km non-competitive Ginky Family Run for children and families which is expected to attract no less than 2000 entries and the Maratonabile for disabled athletes.
Among the VIPs entered for this year’s race is Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF