The prolific Yuki Kawauchi will be one of the main favourites at the marathon des Alpes Maritimes, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race whose 10th edition will take place on Sunday (5).
For the first time of his career, Kawauchi will be running on French roads, starting as a favourite in the race between the coast cities of Nice and Cannes.
Kawauchi, who placed ninth at the IAAF World Championships in London in August, will be contesting his ninth marathon this year and will be aiming to capture a third win, following his successes in Matsuyama in February in a SB of 2:09:54 (on a record-eligible course) and then in Betsukai early October.
Kawauchi’s last race was the Tokyo 20km two weeks ago, where the 30-year-old finished runner-up in 59:32.
Kenya’s Alfred Kering will wear bib no.1 as he has the fastest PB of the field at 2:07:10 set in Paris in 2010 –Kawauchi is the field’s second fastest with 2:08:14 from 2013.
Kering, who has three victories over the distance to his credit, finished seventh in Rabat in 2:11:01 in March in what has been his only race this season.
Throughout his career he’s recorded eight sub-2:10 marathons; Kawauchi has 12.
Ethiopia’s Dejene Kelkilew has also taken the top prize in a marathon, when he succeeded in Reims two years ago in a personal best of 2:11:21. He’s contested one marathon in 2017, finishing sixth in Wuxi in 2:15:14.
Kering’s compatriot Emmanuel Sikuku may also have a say. The 23-year-old set his personal best last year in Rennes, finishing fifth in 2:11:05. He clocked a much more modest 2:21:57 in Geneva back in May in what has been his only outing this season.
Azmeraw Mengistu knows the course well, as he was third last year in a personal best of 2:12:27. His current is uncertain as he hasn’t pinned on a bib since then.
Others in the field include Alex Bartilol of Kenya who improved his PB to 2:12:37 in May in Copenhagen, where he took the runner-up spot. Fourth in Stockholm last June with a PB of 2:13:13, Kenya’s Daniel Yator should be in contention for the podium.
Kenya’s Cornelius Kangogo, who prevailed two times at the Houilles 10km and at this year’s 10km in Dongio in 28:14, will be in charge of the pace. He also has a 1:01:05 half marathon personal best.
Kenya’s Lukas Kanda holds the course record of 2:08:40, set six years ago.
The women’s race will like feature a head-to-head between the Ethiopian pair Tigist Shetu and Meseret Gola Sisay.
The former wound up third in Lodz in April with a best mark of 2:34:37, 31 seconds fastest than the PB of the latter. Sisay, only 19 --11 years younger than her countrywoman-- clocked 2:36:56 in Chongqing in March before improving to 2:35:08 in Taiyuan early September.
Not to be discounted is Frenchwoman Aline Camboulives, who finished second in Annecy last year in 2:37:58. The 43-year-old set her personal best of 2:36:44 in Paris seven years ago.
The course record of 2:30:37 set by Ethiopia’s Radiya Roba in 2010 shouldn’t be in jeopardy.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF