Aerial shot of the JoongAng Seoul Marathon (JoongAng Seoul Marathon organisers) © Copyright
Preview Seoul, Korea

Mbote plans assault on his own course record in Seoul - PREVIEW

With the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu on the horizon, this year's JoongAng Seoul Marathon attracted a strong international men's field, four of whom have this year run close to the 2:08:13 course record set by Jason Mbote in 2006. That course standard is expected to be challenged on Sunday (7) when Mbote returns.

More than 22 thousand runners from 19 countries are going to toe the line on Sunday morning at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race. Of those, 13,600 will contest the marathon. The first JoongAng Seoul Marathon was held in 1988 in the wake of Seoul's Summer Olympic Games, with the intention to maintain high marathon running standards. The slightly hilly course starts and finishes at Jamsil Baseball Stadium and takes runners on a scenic tour around the Korean capital, past the Olympic Stadium and the city's main market areas, Seoul Airport and more.

Kenya vs. Ethiopia - men's race

The men’s international elite field is composed of 14 athletes from five countries who will be led by four Kenyan pacemakers and battling for the $134,500 international elite prize purse, while 54 men and 21 women from Korea will compete for approximately $16,000 for the men’s and women’s domestic division.  

The course record holder Mbote, 33, was third in the Houston Marathon this year in 2:08:58, and won the Glasgow Half Marathon in 1:01:58. He has a strong chance to break his course record in the company of young Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.  

Among them is David Kemboi Kiyeng, 27, who set his personal best of 2:06:26 with his third place finish in Paris in 2009. More recently he place fourth at the Seoul International Marathon last March where he clocked 2:09:00.
His compatriot Charles Munyeki, 24, debuted at the 2009 Chicago Marathon with 2:07:06 placing fourth. Earlier that year he was a pacemaker at Rotterdam where he went through 30 kilometers in 1:29:17 before dropping out. He won the Boston Half Marathon in 2008 with 1:02:46 and ran 59:44 earlier that year at the Rotterdam Half Marathon, which made him the 10th-fastest man in the world for 2008.
The youngest among Kenyan elites is Nicholas Kipruto Koech, 22, who won the Hervis Prague Half Marathon in 2009 with 1:00:07, and was third with personal best 2:07:23 at the Prague Marathon this year.  

Yusuf Songoka, 31, of Kenya was the winner at this year's Hannover Marathon and clocked 1:02:46 at the Virginia Beach Half Marathon.  

As in previous years the marathon is expected to be Kenyan versus Ethiopia competition. Among the Ethiopian contingent is Teferi Wodajo, 28, who clocked 2:07:48 at the 2009 Amsterdam Marathon and 2:12:08 in Ottawa in 2010; Abebe Negewo, 26, who ran 2:09:52 in Vienna last year; and the youngest, Wegayehu Girma Tefera, who was third with 2:10:09 at the Daegu Marathon 2010, and sixth at the JoongAng Seoul Marathon last year with 2:11:33.

Others to watch include: South Africans Norman Dlomo, 35, (PB 2:10:39 at 2007 Milano Marathon), and Stephen Mokoka, 25, (PB 1:01:26 at 2009 Port Elizabeth Half Marathon); Tadesse Abraham, 24, (PB 2:09:24 at 2010 Berlin Marathon) from Eritrea; and Moroccan Mohamed El Hachimi (PB 2:10:24 at 2009 Wien Marathon).

Four Kenyan pacemakers will lead the race: Kiplimo Kimutai, 29, (PB 1:00:41 at 2010 Abu Dhabi); Stefen Kipkosgey Kibet, 24 (PB 1:00:09 at Porto 2010); Benjamin Kiplimo Mutai, who was a pacemaker at the Seoul International Marathon 2010, London Marathon 2009 and Chicago 2009; and Mutai Kipkemei, a pacemaker at Daegu Marathon 2010 and Seoul Marathon 2009.

Women’s race -

As is tradition here, the women's field consists of a domestic elite field. Among the starters are Athens Olympian Kyung Hee Choi, 29 (PB 2:30:19 in Seoul Marathon 2004); Soon Duk Kang, 36 (PB 1:11:33 in Philadelphia Half Marathon 2008); Eun Jung Kim, 27 (PB 2:35:28 at Jeonju Marathon 2006 and 2:37:12 result at Seoul Int’l Marathon 2010); and Joon Sook Park, 30, (PB 2:39:39 at Seoul Int’l Marathon 2010).

The current women’s course record of 2:29:32 was set in 2007 by Korean Eung-Jung Lee.

Yelena Kurdyumova and Sergey Porada for the IAAF