Almenesh Herpha on her way to winning the Lagos City Marathon (Organisers) © Copyright
Preview Lagos, Nigeria

Defending champions face competitive fields at Lagos City Marathon

Almenesh Herpha and Abraham Kiprotich, the 2018 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon winners, will line up against formidable opposition when they defend their titles at the IAAF Bronze Label road race on Saturday (2).

Herpha pulled off a surprise victory 12 months ago, winning in 2:38:25 to finish just 33 seconds shy of the course record. But despite reducing her PB to 2:33:20 later in the year in Beirut, there will be 14 other women with faster PBs on the start line on Saturday.

With a lifetime best of 2:20:59 set when finishing runner-up at the 2017 Paris Marathon, Agnes Jeruto is the fastest woman in the field. The Kenyan contested just one marathon last year, clocking 2:27:46 to finish third at the Gold Coast Marathon and has reached the podium in her eight most recent marathons.

Georgina Rono finished just shy of the Lagos podium last year, running 2:39:44. A 2:21:39 performer at her best, the Kenyan ended 2018 on a high by winning the Riga Marathon in 2:28:22.

Caroline Kilel, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion, set her PB of 2:22:34 back in 2013. Although she hasn’t been close to that in recent years, her 2018 season’s best of 2:31:29 suggests the 37-year-old Kenyan will still be competitive on Saturday.

Janet Rono won the Daegu Marathon just 10 months ago in 2:28:01, less than two minutes shy of her PB. The Kenyan has contested 19 marathons to date, nine of which were completed within 2:30.

Emily Samoei’s PB of 2:26:52, set in 2012, remains her only sub-2:30 performance to date, but she will be motivated to improve on her fifth-place finish from last year’s Lagos Marathon.

Mestawot Tadese has represented Ethiopia in the 1500m at the Olympic Games and World Championships. Now a marathon runner, she has a lifetime best of 2:31:38 and could contest for a podium finish on Saturday.

In the men’s race, five of the top six finishers from last year return to Lagos, including defending champion Abraham Kiprotich of France.

Kiprotich has won three out of his past four marathons, ending 2018 with a season’s best of 2:10:55. The 33-year-old set his lifetime best of 2:08:33 when winning the 2013 Daegu Marathon. He may not need to replicate that time on Saturday, but he may need to improve upon his course record of 2:15:04 if he wants to hold on to his title.

Having finished a close second in 2017 and 2018, Ronny Kiboss will be highly motivated for Saturday’s race. The Kenyan’s 2:12:17 PB dates back to his marathon debut in 2014, but he is likely capable of a quicker time on a faster course.

Benjamin Bitok and Joseph Kyengo Munywoki, who finished third and fourth respectively in 2018, also return to the Nigerian capital. Bitok’s PB of 2:09:13 was set at the 2017 Rome Marathon, while Munywoki’s best of 2:10:21 came when winning in Dresden three years ago.

Jacob Kendagor’s PB of 2:07:33, set in Seoul in 2017, makes him the fastest in field. The Kenyan ran 2:10:08 in Daegu last year, which suggests he will be one of the leading contenders on Saturday.

Kenya’s 2008 world U20 steeplechase bronze medallist Patrick Kipyegon Terer will return to action after missing the entire 2018 season. He may not be ready just yet to challenge his 2:08:07 PB from his 2014 Prague Marathon victory, but he will still be hopeful of a good run this weekend.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF