Moses Mosop wins the Xiamen Marathon (Jiang Kehong) © Copyright
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Mosop hopeful of strong return in Guangzhou – weekend road-racing preview

Kenya’s Moses Mosop leads a quality field at the Guangzhou Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (9).

Five sub-2:10 runners will toe the line in the men’s race targeting the course record of 2:10:01 set by Morocco’s Abdellah Tagharrafet in 2015. 33-year-old Mosop owns the fastest PB of this year’s entrants with his 2:05:03 clocking from the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon. He also holds the Chinese all-comers’ record of 2:06:19, set at the 2015 Xiamen Marathon.

The Kenyan, however, hasn’t raced since placing third at the 2016 Dongying Marathon in 2:09:33 so there is a question mark over his form ahead of this weekend.

Compatriot David Kemboi Kiyeng, 35, is perhaps the most experienced marathon runner in the field, having won in Reims, Seoul, Chuncheon Sao Paulo, Daegu and Kosice over the past 12 years. But the 35-year-old’s best recent performance was a 2:17:59 clocking in Taiyuan three months ago, more than 11 minutes shy of his PB.

Fellow Kenyan Cosmas Jairus Birech – not to be confused with the steeplechaser with the similar name – is arguably the most in-form runner in the field. The 32-year-old improved his PB to 2:08:03 to take his first title over the classic distance in Rome eight months ago.

The field also includes Birhanu Teshome of Ethiopia, who has a PB of 2:09:03, and Kenya’s Mathew Kipsaat, whose lifetime best of 2:09:19 was achieved in Rome last year.

Despite the absence of defending champion and course record-holder Rahma Tusa, Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech could challenge the course record of 2:25:12 in the women’s race.

Cheyech, the fourth-place finisher at the IAAF World Championships London 2017, set a PB of 2:21:22 in Paris last year. Her season’s best is 2:33:01, set at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in March.

Ethiopia’s Zinash Debebe is another title contender. The 22-year-old cut nearly three minutes off her PB to finish fourth in Seville in 2:27:47. It will be Debebe’s third marathon of the year and she is still chasing her first career victory over the distance.

Lithuanian veteran Diana Lobacevske will be competing in Guangzhou for the second time following her sixth-place finish in 2016. The 38-year-old set her PB of 2:28:48 last year in London and her most recent outing was at the Prague Half Marathon in April with a 1:17:18 clocking.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF


Lonyangata targets course record in Singapore

The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, boasts one of its best fields for the event’s 17th edition on Sunday (9).

The men’s race features a strong Kenyan contingent that includes two-time Paris Marathon winner Paul Lonyangata, 2016 Singapore Marathon winner Felix Kirwa and 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Micah Kogo.

“My decision to come here is so that I could win,” said Lonyangata. “I saw that the course record is 2:11:25, so my aim is to lower that with a time of about 2:10.”

Stella Barsosio starts as favourite in the women’s race. The Kenyan clocked a PB of 2:23:43 in Paris earlier this year and came close to that at the recent Frankfurt Marathon with 2:25:00.

Compatriot Agnes Kiprop, a 2:23:54 performer at her best, won this year’s Hannover Marathon and will also be in Singapore. Moldova’s Lilia Fisikovici should also be in contention, following her victory at the Krakow Marathon and her national record of 2:28:26 in Ljubljana.

Organisers for the IAAF


Eshete looks to go one better in Saitama

Twelve months after missing out on victory by just three seconds at the Saitama International Marathon, Bahrain’s Shitaye Eshete will return to the IAAF Bronze Label road race on Sunday (9) with victory on her mind.

The 28-year-old, who finished sixth in the 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics Games, has this year set PBs of 1:08:25 for the half marathon and 2:24:51 for the marathon, the latter when winning in Hamburg.

“My goal is to win,” said Shitaye, who also finished sixth in the 10,000m at the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Championships. “As for the time, I will be happy if I can run a 2:20 marathon. I want to improve my personal best.”

Two-time world 5000m silver medallist Syvlia Kibet has even stronger track credentials, but the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist finished fourth in Hamburg earlier this year in 2:30:27, some way behind Shitaye. Her PB, 2:26:16, was set on her debut at the distance in 2015. This weekend’s race will be just the third marathon of her career.

Dalilah Gosa finished just ahead of Shitaye at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018, placing ninth in a PB of 1:08:12. She finished second in 2:26:46 on her marathon debut in Rome in April, but hopes to go much quicker this weekend.

“I want to win on Sunday, and record a time around 2:22,” said the 20-year-old Bahraini runner.

Fatuma Sado is not only one of the fastest in the field; she is also one of the most experienced. The Ethiopian set her PB of 2:24:16 at the 2015 Toronto Marathon and earlier this year won in Xiamen in 2:26:41. More recently she finished third in both Beijing and Istanbul.

The race doubles as a qualifying opportunity for the Japanese marathon team for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 and for the Japanese Olympic Trial Marathon. As such, it has attracted a cluster of the country’s top marathon runners.

Mao Kiyota’s 2:23:47 PB, set last year, makes her the fastest woman in the field, but the 25-year-old has been unable to recapture that kind of form so far this year, finishing ninth in Nagoya and 11th in Sapporo.

“I am not thinking about my goal time nor my place at the time,” says the 2015 Asian 5000m bronze medallist.

Other Japanese runners in the field include Miharu Shimokado, Hiroko Yoshitomi, Asami Furuse, Marie Imada and Yui Okada.

Maryna Damantsevich, who finished fourth at the European Championships in a PB of 2:27:44, will also be on the start line. The Belarusian finished seventh in Saitama two years ago but has improved significantly since then.

The race record of 2:23:18 was set by Flomena Cheyech Daniel in 2016. The course is quite challenging because, unusually for a Japanese marathon, it is quite undulating. The weather will be about 10C so conditions should not be a factor.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF