Milan, ItalyThe 38th edition of the Stramilano Half Marathon on Sunday (5) on the fast and flat Milan course will be highlighted by the battle between three-time Stramilano winner Aniko Kalovics from Hungary and Kenyan Peninah Arusei, who was fifth at the 2008 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janeiro.
Arusei ran the fastest time of her career in New Dehli in November 2008 where she finished third in 1:08:20, three seconds behind winner Aselefech Mergia from Ethiopia. Arusei also won the Berlin Half Marathon in 1:08:22 and the Berlin 25 km race in 1:24:10 in spring 2008 and took part at the Olympic Games in Bejing where she finished 18th in the 10,000m in 31:39.87.
Hungarian Cross Country and road running star Kalovics knows the Milan course very well as she won three editions in a row from 2005 to 2007 and set the fastest time of her career in 2007 clocking 1:08:58. Kalovics, a former European Cross Country bronze medallist in 2003, enjoyed a solid winter season in the Cross Country with impressive wins in the Campaccio, San Sebastian, the Cinque Mulini and the Italian Cross Country Championships in Campi Bisenzio and will be looking to win her fourth title here. Kalovics, a former winner of prestigious marathon races in Italy in Carpi and Turin, set her seasonal best of 1:10:59 in Ras Al Khaimah on 20 February.
The Stramilano will be an important test for Italian marathon runners Bruna Genovese and Vincenza Sicari ahead of the upcoming spring Marathon season. Genovese, the winner of the Tokyo Marathon in 2004 in 2:26:34, will run an important test race before her Marathon comeback scheduled on 19 April in Turin. Genovese boasts a solid international career with a third place in Boston in 2005 followed by a 2:25:28 PB set one year later in the same US Marathon. Genovese, who is coached by former Italian Marathon star Salvatore Bettiol, also collected a tenth place at the Olympic Games in Athens, a fifth place in the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg and a third place in her favourite Marathon in Tokio in 2007 in 2:27:35.
Vincenza Sicari (Half Marathon PB 1:10:21 set at the 2008 Roma Ostia) enjoyed a good 2008 season highlighted by the win in the Turin Marathon in her career best of 2:29:51 and her participation at the Olympic Games in Bejing.
The women’s line-up is completed by Hafida Gadi Richard from France (PB 1:10:11 set in 2002), second at the 2008 Stramilano and by Italian Cross Country and distance running specialist Renate Rungger (PB 1:13:10 in 2007)
Kimugul aiming for second win - men’s race
The men’s race, which boasts a glorious past with the famous world records set by Moses Tanui (59:47 in 1993) and Paul Tergat (59:17 set in 1998) when the Milan Half Marathon was run on a different course, will feature Paul Kimugul, another well-known name of the Stramilano where he won in 2006 and finished third in 2007. Kimugul, who ran his PB of 1:00:15 in Rotterdam, will take on fellow Kenyans Gilbert Kiptoo Chepkwony and Barnabas Kiplagat Kosgei.
Chepkwony finished third at the Berlin 25 km race in 1:14:11 in 2008. This year he won the Eldoret Half Marathon in 1:02:01 on 1 February. Kiplagat Kosgei, a World junior Cross Country bronze medallist in 2005, finished third in the Paris Half Marathon setting his PB of 1:02:25. Another kenyan to watch will be Nicholas Kamakya who ran 1:00:12 in Boulogne-Billancourt in 2008 and 1:01:00 at the Verbania Half Marathon this year.
The European challenge is led by Ukraine’s Vasyl Matvichuk, the 2001 European junior Cross Country champion and more recently fifth at the Turin Marathon in 2008, and by Italian distance running hope Daniele Meucci, European under 23 bronze medallist in the 10,000m in Debrecen 2007, 12th at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels last December and twice Italian indoor champion in the 3000 metres in 2008 and 2009.
The Italian interest will be focused on the generational battle between 23-year-old Meucci and experienced Marathon runners like 2004 Rome Marathon winner Ruggero Pertile (15th at the Olympic Games in Bejing and third among European runners), Daniele Caimmi (sixth at the 2003 World Championships in Paris and a 2:08:59 Marathon performer), Ottavio Andriani (23rd at the Olympic Marathon in Bejing), former European Marathon silver medallist Danilo Goffi and 2002 Stramilano winner Rachid Berradi. Berradi was the last Italian Marathon runner to win the Milan Half Marathon race when he set unbeaten Italian record over this distance running 1:00:20 in 2002.
Gennaro Di Napoli, twice World indoor champion in the 3000m in 1993 and 1995, will run the Stramilano wearing a special bib number 37 to honour the memory of the recently deceased Stramilano President and Organizer Luigi Mauri, who was born in 1937.
The Half Marathon starts from Piazza Castello at 10:45 and finishes in the Arena Civica Gianni Brera Stadium.
The popular Milan road running event is not only known for its Half Marathon race but also features a packed programme of events highlighted by the 10 km mass running event which traditionally attracts 50,000 amateurs who start at 9:00 in the famous Piazza del Duomo and cross the finish-line in the Arena Stadium. The Stramilano programme also includes the 5 km children running event which starts at 9:45.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF