The Mattoni Half Maraton Olomouc, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, will attract 3500 runners from 32 countries on Saturday evening (22 June) when temperatures are expected to rise up to 29°C during the day.
Other races will take place during the day, but the 21.0975km distance will be the main challenge for the elite athletes in the Czech city of Olomouc, located in the middle of Moravia.
“We slightly changed the course of the Half-marathon compared to last year,” said Jana Moberly, athletes manager at the RunCzech series. “We will see whether those changes help the competitors break the course records of 1:00:44 and 1:10:40 by Ethiopia’s Dawit Abdulahi and Netsanet Achamo, both from 2011.”
The fourth edition of the Half-marathon will have runners from 11 countries on the elite start list, the majority of which are from Kenya and Ethiopia.
Fastest among the 16 men on the start list is Kenya’s John Kiprotich, who ran 59:23 in Rotterdam in 2009. “I feel very well and if the weather is good, I will be focusing on the course record,” said the 24-year-old, who also won the Vienna Marathon in 2011.
A regular competitor in the RunCzech series, Henry Kiplagat will be keen to dip under one hour, having come agonisingly close in Prague last year with his PB of 1:00:01. He is familiar with the course too as he competed in Olomouc last year, finishing second.
Other athletes to watch include Ethiopians Mule Wasihun, 60:35 this year at age 19, and Abera Chane, a 1:01:11 performer who competed at this year’s World Cross Country Championships.
Japan will have also a strong presence in Olomouc with Fumihiro Maruyama, the fastest in the country this year with his 1:01:15 PB, and 1:10:40 runner Yuka Tokuda in the women’s race.
“I know that the course is more variable and paved by cobblestones but I would like to break 1:03,” revealed Maruyama during the today´s press conference in Olomouc. Tokuda’s target will be to break 1:10, having come close last year in her only Half-marathon to date.
However, the biggest favourite in the women’s race is Ethiopia’s Yebrqual Melese. The 23-year-old competed at this year’s World Cross Country Championships, then one month later set a Half-marathon PB of 1:09:02.
Aside from Tokuda, Melese’s biggest rivals will be compatriot Bethlehem Moges (1:11:21) and Britain’s Susan Partridge (1:10:31).
Home athlete Petra Kaminkova, who turned 40 last January, hopes to improve on her best time on the Olomouc course (1:19:47). “I’ll be happy for a time between 1:17 and 1:18. It should be cooler in the evening, so the conditions should be good,” stated the Olomouc-born Kaminkova, 38 times a national champion in running events.
Zuzana Trojakova for the IAAF
John Kiprotich (KEN) 59:23
Henry Kiplagat (KEN) 1:00:01
Mule Wasihun (ETH) 1:00:35
Abere Chane (ETH) 1:01:11
Fumihiro Maruya (JPN) 1:01:15
Mustapha Elaziz (MAR) 1:02:06
Aso Takahiro (JPN) 1:02:36
Yebrqual Melese (ETH) 1:09:02
Jane Kiptoo (KEN) 1:09:07
Susan Partridge (GBR) 1:10:31
Yuka Tokuda (JPN) 1:10:40
Yurie Doi (JPN) 1:10:50
Betelehm Moges (ETH) 1:11:51
Yulia Ruban (UKR) 1:14:31