World Half Marathon champions Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta lead their respective fields at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (27).
For both runners, it will be their first competitive outing since their global triumphs on 24 March.
Kamworor, 25, has established himself as one of the world’s leading distance runners in recent years, winning the last two world cross country and world half marathon titles. In Bengaluru, he'll face defending champion Alex Korio, who also won this race in 2013. The 27-year-old was an impressive winner last year, beating a world-class field by 14 seconds. He also reduced his half marathon best to 58:51 in Copenhagen later in the year.
He'll come to the Indian race with a point to prove, however, after having to drop out in the world championship event in Valencia back in March.
In addition to Korio and Kamworor, who won here in 2012 and 2014, another two-time winner in Bengaluru to return for this year’s race is Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew, who took the title in 2015 and 2016.
Geremew was among the favourites for last year’s race after his two previous wins but faded to tenth. However, his two outings so far this year have resulted in stunning victories, with him winning both the Yangzhou Half Marathon in China and the Dubai Marathon, the latter in a world-leading 2:04:00 which makes him the 12th fastest man ever over the classic distance.
Fellow Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who was just two seconds behind Geremew in Dubai to take the runners up spot there, will also be on the start line in Bengaluru while the fastest man in the field is another Ethiopian Birhanu Legese, who has had success in the past on Indian soil and twice won the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.
Leading the Asian challenge will be Bahrain’s Abraham Cheroben, who finished second behind Kamworor in Valencia. The Asian half marathon record holder is anticipated to be in contention for a place on the podium in Bengaluru.
A man who knows what it is like to climb the dais at the TCS World 10K is Kenya’s Edwin Kiptoo, second in 2017 and third in 2015, and he is aiming again to feature in the top three in Bengaluru.
Gudeta to face Tirop and Kamulu
Gudeta, who clocked a women-only race world record of 1:06:11 in Valencia, also returns to Indian road race action, but the 27-year-old is still chasing her first victory here.
Gudeta’s rivals will include the Kenyan pair of Agnes Tirop and Pauline Kamulu. Tirop, still only 22, won the 2015 world cross country title and has proven herself to be a formidable competitor on the track as well.
She won the IAAF World Championships 10,000m bronze medal in London last summer and showed she is in excellent form earlier this month when finishing second over 3000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha in a personal best of 8:29.09.
Kamulu, 23, has spent several years based in Japan but this will be her first trip to India. She surprised many when she took the bronze medal at the IAAF World Half Marathon Valencia 2018.
A third Kenyan, Caroline Kipkirui, doesn’t have the international championships credentials of her two compatriots but has shown stunning form recently when winning the Doha 3000m in a personal best of 8:29.05 and also running a 10km best of 30:28 when finishing second in Prague last month, which makes her the fastest woman in Bengaluru and the equal-seventh fastest ever.
Gudeta will also have her compatriots Senbere Teferi and Zeineba Yimer to contend with. Teferi celebrated her 23rd birthday earlier this month and has silver medals from the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and 2015 IAAF World Championships 5000m to her name.
Yimer doesn’t turn 20 until next month but won the high-quality Ethiopian half marathon championships in January and followed up that victory with fifth place in Valencia but this will be her debut over the 10km distance on the roads.
The TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2018 has a total prize fund of US$213,000, with $26,000 going to the each winner.
Approximately 27,000 runners will take to the roads for five different races in what has become one of Bengaluru’s most high-profile sporting events.
Organisers for the IAAF