US long distance star Galen Rupp will be in the spotlight at the 44th edition of the Huawei Roma-Ostia Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (11).
“I am very happy to run in Rome, I have heard great things about this race,” Rupp said. “My goal is to run a fast time in my preparation for the Boston Marathon.”
At the 2012 Olympic Games, Rupp won Olympic silver in the 10,000m behind his friend and former training partner Mo Farah and Olympic marathon bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He also finished second at the 2016 Boston Marathon in 2:09:58 and won the 2017 Chicago Marathon, becoming the first US runner since 1982 to take top honours in the windy city. He is also the national record holder in the 10,000m 26:44.36, in the 3000m indoors with 7:30.16, in the indoor 2 miles with 8:07.41 and in the 5000m indoors with 13:01.46.
“I like the Roma-Ostia course as it is flat and it will give me the chance to fulfill my potential. I think it will be a high-level race, where I will run to win. I am aiming to run my personal best. If I am fit I can attack the US record.”
That mark in 59:43, set by Ryan Hall in Houston in 2007. Rupp’s lifetime best in 1:00:30 set in 2011.
The past two editions of the Roma-Ostia were highlighted by the wins of Solomon Kirwa in 58:48 and Guye Adola in 59:18. Adola went on to become the fastest debutant ever in the marathon with 2:03:46 in Berlin last September.
This year’s edition could be the springboard for more future stars. Beside Rupp the men’s field features Kenyan runners Stephen Chebogut, who was second at the Paris Marathon last year with 2:06:57; Justus Kangogo, the runner-up at this race last year in 59:31; and Emmanuel Kipsang, who clocked 1:00:14 in Lisbon two years ago. Others expected in the mix include Ethiopia’s Dino Sefir, who comes armed with a 2:04:50 marathon PB from Dubai 2012 and 59:42 half marathon best from 2011. Uganda Solomon Mutai, the 2015 world bronze medallist in the marathon, is also in the race.
In the women’s race Kenyan Rebecca Chesir and Amane Beriso Shankule will make their return to the Roma-Ostia.
Chesir finished fourth in last year’s edition in 1:09:01 and set her personal best times of 1:08:21 at the 2015 Stramilano Half Marathon and 2:25:24 at the 2017 Vienna Marathon. Beriso Shankule won the Roma Ostia in 2015 in 1:08:43 and went on to set her marathon lifetime best of 2:20:48 in Dubai in 2016.
The other top runners, who could fight for top positions are Ethiopians Haftenmesh Tesfay, who clocked 2:20:03 in the super-fast Dubai Marathon last January; Koren Yal, who has PBs of 1:10:52 and 2:22:43; and Kenya’s Winfridah Moseti, the winner at last October’s Turin Half Marathon with 1:09:39.
Italian top runner Rosaria Console will run the Roma-Ostia for the first time since 2013. She made her debut at the event in 2003 finishing second, and has made seven appearances in all in the most popular Italian half marathon race. She won in 2005 in 1:09:34 and finished fourth in 2009 in her comeback after giving birth to her daughter Francesca.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF