Two of Russia’s top marathon runners, Aleksey Sokolov and Yevgeniya Danilova, will be hopeful of winning on home soil at the Siberian International Marathon in Omsk on 22 September, but two talented African runners could threaten their chances at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
The Siberian International Marathon is currently the only race in Russia with an IAAF Label. This year the Marathon coincides with the All-Russian Running Day “Cross of Nations” and organisers are expecting a record number of participants.
The added status of the Russian Marathon Cup has attracted the top domestic runners, including Aleksey Sokolov. His PB of 2:10:59 set last year in Nagano makes him the favourite for the race and he could even threaten the course record of 2:13:02 set 20 years ago.
Sokolov – not to be confused with his older compatriot with the same name who is also an elite marathon runner – finished 24th at the recent IAAF World Championships in Moscow. “During the race I accidentally drank water that was too cold, and after that I had a sore throat,” said Sokolov.
He will try not to repeat that mistake in Omsk, where his main opponent appears to be Evans Taiget. The German-based Kenyan is fresh from a PB of 2:14:52 set earlier this year in Bonn, but his chances may be affected by the fact that he won the Munster Marathon less than two weeks ago, running 2:15:56 in poor conditions.
Close contest expected in women’s race
The situation in the women’s race is similar to the men’s. Ethiopia’s Meseret Mengistu would be the favourite but, like Taiget, she raced a Marathon less than two weeks ago, meaning Yevgeniya Danilova could be the likely winner.
Earlier this year Mengistu set her PB of 2:29:22 – almost a minute quicker than the Siberian course record – when finishing third in Pyongyang. Since then, the 23-year-old won the Bali Marathon in June and more recently finished fourth in Johannesburg just earlier this month.
Danilova set her PB of 2:31:44 in Rotterdam back in 2010; a race in which Mengistu finished eighth. The 32-year-old Russian clocked 2:32:27 in Seoul earlier this year, the second-fastest performance of her career. She will also be familiar with the course in Omsk, having contested this race three times and winning in 2009.
Britain’s Fiona Oakes has travelled to Siberia with a big goal in mind. The 47-year-old’s PB of 2:48:08 was set eight years ago, but the result on Sunday isn’t too important for Oakes, who runs an animal sanctuary with up to 400 different species and raises funds for it by running Marathons.
Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF