The 37th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, will see defending women’s champion Amane Gobena return to the Turkish city with the aim of chasing the course record of 2:27:25 on Sunday (15).
This mark was set back in 2010 by Gobena’s Ethiopian compatriot Ashu Kasim Rabu but Gobena, now 33, set a personal best of 2:23:30 in April this year when finishing second in the Paris Marathon and would appear to be very capable of improving on the Istanbul course record.
She is very familiar with the Istanbul course as she was the third in 2010, second in 2012 and the winner 12 months ago.
Gobena’s compatriot Fatuma Sado achieved personal best of 2:24:16 in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this year and will give Gobena a run for her money.
Sado has also won the Hamburg, Los Angeles, Warsaw and Xiamen marathons during her career and was the runner-up of the 2011 Istanbul Marathon early in her career over the classic distance.
Merima Mohammed is another strong Ethiopian runner and can boast of a best 2:23:06, albeit from five years ago. She has won the Cannes, Ottawa, and Dusseldorf marathons in the past.
Kenya’s 33-year-old Kenyan Agnes Barsosio is another candidate for the podium. Her best of 2:24:03 came when winning the Daegu Marathon in 2013.
The local focus will be on Sultan Haydar who had her career best with 2:24:44 this year in Dubai.
Other runners to look out for include Belarus’ Volha Mazuronak (2:25:36) and Ukraine’s Olena Burkovska, who has a best of 2:27:07 and finished third in Istanbul in 2014.
Kenya’s Mark Kosgei Kiptoo, now 39, is the fastest man in the men’s field of 2:06:00 and set his best this year when finishing third in Eindhoven. He was also the runner-up at the Rotterdam Marathon this year and was the first to cross the finish line in Frankfurt 2014.
His compatriot Elijah Kiplagat is another sub-2:07 runner with best of 2:06:41 from when he was second in the 2009 Amsterdam Marathon but although that was six years ago, he has never failed to run under 2:10 every year since then.
Michael Kiprop Tiony, who had the third place last year in Istanbul, will also be a candidate for honours.
Elias Kemboi Chelimo, Silah Limo, and Hilary Kipkosgei Yego also form part of an elite Kenyan contingent in Istanbul, along with Evans Kiplagat.
Kiplagat aiming for Istanbul double
Kiplagat won this year’s Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon and his stated aim is to stick in the minds of the citizens of Istanbul by winning two major events in the same city in the same year.
He has had an erratic marathon career but can boast of a best of 2:07:46 when finishing second in Seoul last year and also won the challenging local Iten Marathon in Kenya earlier this year. He was also third in Istanbul in 2012 and was just one step off the podium in last year’s Istanbul Marathon, when he was fourth, so it can be said that he is at least familiar with Sunday’s course.
Apart from the extensive Kenyan group there is a noteworthy Ethiopian trio could have an impact in the men’s race.
One of them is Kasime Adilla Roba (best of 2:10:20), a two-time winner of Istanbul Marathon in 2008 and 2009.
His compatriot Gebo Burka was the runner-up in 2014 Vodafone Istanbul Marathon and he is definitely among the favorites for this year’s edition too. With a best of 2:08:12, clocked in the Houston Marathon this year, he has shown very good form already in 2015.
Debebe Tolossa is the last athlete of this Ethiopian trio with a best of 2:07:41, achieved in 2012 Houston Marathon.
As in the previous years, athletes will run on a unique course between two continents.
The race starts from the Asian side of Istanbul and reaches to the European side by crossing the Bosphorus Bridge. The finish line is situated in Sultanahmet district, which is labeled as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
More than 28.000 runners from 111 countries have entered. Additionally, nearly 100.000 participants are expected in a fun run.
Yusuf Yücel (organisers) for the IAAF