Rose Chelimo during the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon (Victah Sailer / Photorun.com) © Copyright
Preview Lisbon, Portugal

Chelimo and Chepchirchir the headline acts in Lisbon

The Rock’n’Roll Lisbon Marathon EDP and Rock’n’Roll Lisbon Half-Marathon Santander Totta RTP return to the Portuguese capital on Sunday (15) with world marathon champion Rose Chelimo set to compete in the shorter of the two IAAF Gold Label road races.

The Bahraini athlete competed in Lisbon’s ‘other’ half marathon in March 2015, winning in what was then a PB of 1:08:22. She went on to reduce her PB to 1:08:08 one year later in Ras Al Khaimah. Sunday’s race will be her first competitive appearance since her surprise victory in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.

Ruth Chepngetich is the fastest in the field. The 23-year-old Kenyan won her first four half marathons of 2017, setting PBs on each occasion. After a 1:09:06 victory in Adana, she clocked 1:08:08 in Paris, 1:07:42 in Milan and 1:06:19 in Istanbul to move to 16th on the world all-time list.

Although this will be her first ever half marathon, Senbere Teferi cannot be overlooked. The Ethiopian won world silver medals at 5000m and cross country in 2015 and this year clocked season’s bests of 14:31.76 and 30:41.68 at 5000m and 10,000m, finishing fourth at the World Championships in the shorter event. Her most recent race was a 30:38 victory over 10km in Tilburg.

With respective PBs of 1:07:08 and 1:08:12, Kenya’s 2011 world marathon bronze medallist Sharon Cherop and Visiline Jepkesho are expected to figure at the front of the pack. Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba and Portugal’s European half marathon champion Sara Moreira will also have ambitions of making it on to the podium.

Mary Keitany’s course record of 1:07:53, set in 2011, will be a lofty but realistic target for most of the elite women’s field.

The main goal for the men’s half marathon will be to take the course record below the one-hour barrier. The mark currently stands at 1:00:19, set by Wilson Kiprop in 2013.

Following his surprise seventh-place finish in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in London, Eritrea’s Yohanes Ghebregergis will line up in Lisbon as one of the favourites for the half marathon. The 23-year-old has a lifetime best of 1:00:21 and he came within a minute of that time at the Yangzhou Half Marathon earlier this year.

Compatriot Goitom Kifle finished second in this race in 2013 and seventh in 2014. At 1:00:20, his PB is one second quicker than Ghebregergis’s, but he hasn’t raced since April.

Newcomer Tadu Abate boasts the quickest season’s best of all the entrants. In what was his first ever international race at any distance, the Ethiopian ran 1:00:46 in Lisbon earlier this year.

When Daniel Rotich last raced in Portugal, he triumphed at the Porto Half Marathon in 1:00:59. The Ugandan finished a distant 14th at last month’s Copenhagen Half Marathon and will be aiming to run quicker than his 1:02:14 from the Danish capital.

Imane Merga boasts the most impressive CV of the men’s elite field. The Ethiopian won the world cross-country title in 2011 and earned the 10,000m bronze medal at the World Championships later that year. But his half marathon PB of 59:56 was set on the Great North Run’s downhill course back in 2012; since then, he hasn’t run faster than 1:02 for the distance.

The top Portuguese entrants are 2004 Olympic 1500m bronze medallist Rui Silva and national 5000m champion Samuel Barata.

Chepchirchir to defend marathon title

After winning the Lisbon Marathon last year in a course record of 2:24:13, Sarah Chepchirchir went on to win the Tokyo Marathon in 2:19:47, making her the sixth-fastest Kenyan woman in history. The 33-year-old hasn’t raced since then, but she has returned to Lisbon to defend her title and possibly reduce the course record further.

Others in the field include Ethiopia’s Afera Godfay and 2016 Warsaw Marathon champion Kumeshi Sichala. Dusseldorf Marathon champion Doroteia Peixoto and national marathon champion Rosa Madureira lead the Portuguese entries.

Both course records in Lisbon also double as the Portuguese all-comers’ records and organisers are hopeful that at least one of the marks will be broken on Sunday. Three athletes in the men’s field have previously run faster than the men’s course record of 2:08:21, set by Samuel Ndungu in 2014.

Kenyan duo Edwin Koech and Jacob Cheshari have both set PBs this year. Koech won the Milan Marathon in 2:07:13, while Cheshari clocked 2:07:46 to finish second in Barcelona.

With a best of 2:06:17 set five years ago, Seboka Dibaba is the fastest in the field. The Ethiopian’s season’s best is four minutes shy of his PB, but he has made it on to the podium at six of his seven most recent completed marathons.

Other potential contenders include Kenya’s Ishimael Bushendish Chemtan and Daniel Limo, Ethiopia’s Florence Marathon champion Teshome Shumi Yadete, USA’s Ian Burrell and Bahrain’s El Hassan Elabassi.

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF

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