Danilo Goffi starts as one of the favourites for the 22nd edition of the Florence Marathon on Sunday 27 November, while the women’s race looks set to be between to sub-2:30 Kenyans, Alice Chelangat and Anne Jelagat Kibor, who are already used to winning in Italy.
This year’s race will be held over a new course and has attracted a new record figure of 5800 entries from all over the world. The route starts from Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers one of the best-known scenic overviews of the Tuscan city, while the finish-line is situated in the Piazza Santa Croce which is named after the famous Basilica Santa Croce.
The 32-year-old Italian – he will turn 33 on 2 Dec) who comes from Nerviano (near Milan), has a personal best (PB) of 2:08:33 and is a former European silver medallist, and returns to the distance after injury forced him to pull out of the World Championships in Helsinki.
After many ups and downs in his career Goffi, who also finished fourth at the World Championships in Athens 1997 and fifth in Seville 1999, decided to change coach in search of new motivation at the beginning of 2004, since which time he has been advised by Lucio Gigliotti, who also coaches 2004 Olympic champion Stefano Baldini. His "second career" has been marked by a comeback in the 2004 Venice Marathon where he finished second in 2:09:55 beaten by Kenyan Raymond Kipkoech by just one second. Last April's Turin Marathon held in rainy and cold weather conditions also brought a return to victory for Goffi who prevailed over his compatriot and Carabinieri Bologna clubmate Francesco Bennici in 2:11:12. Goffi credited his successful comeback to his marriage to Tatiana and the birth of his son Gabriele in May 2004 which has contributed to a new balance in his life.
The other leading Italian contenders are Giacomo Leone and Angelo Carosi. Leone was New York marathon winner in 1996, fifth placer finisher at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, and former Italian record holder with 2:07:52. Carosi (PB 2:12:46), was 1994 European silver medallist at the 3000m Steeplechase and won the Florence Marathon in 2000 and 2003. A 41-year-old forest warden of the Forestale Italian squad, Carosi is pursuing a solid marathon career as a veteran athlete after a high-profile track career which included four World Championships finals between 1991 and 1997.
The Kenyan challenge on Sunday is led by Samson Kosgei (PB 2:11:43) who was the winner at the 2005 Brussels Marathon, Jomo Godwin Kororia (PB 2:11:07), and David Kiptum Kipruto (2:14:15).
The Florence marathon race record is held by Kenyan Daniel Kirwa Too who ran 2:10:38 in 2001.
The women’s race is set to be a Kenyan affair between Alice Chelangat and Anne Jelagat Kibor who on the new course will aiming to break the race record held by Slovenia's Helena Javornik who ran 2:28:15 in 2002.
Both Chelangat and Jelagat are well known names to Italian road races fans. Chelangat, who won the Milan Marathon in 2001 setting her PB of 2:26:22, took part in the Olympic Marathon in Athens where she finished eleventh. Jelagat Kibor, who ran a 2:29:23 PB when winning the 2003 Milan Marathon, has also claimed victories in other Italian top races in Venice 2003 and Carpi 2004.
Ivana Iozzia, the Italian marathon champion last April at the Maratona Sant'Antonio in Padua with her PB of 2:35:40, is the main national challenger.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF