One thing is certain for Sunday’s Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes: the ninth edition of this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race will see new champions crowned.
In this context Kenya’s Henry Sugut seems to be the favourite in the men’s contest, having the fastest personal best of the field with 2:06:58. He set that time when he won the Vienna Marathon four years ago. The 31-year-old prevailed again in Vienna in 2013 in 2:08:19. Since then his results have been erratic as he didn’t finish the Tokyo marathon in 2014 and clocked a modest 2:14:53 last year.
Is he going to be at his best on Sunday?
One of his mains contenders will be his countryman Nixon Machichin who’s already shined on French roads. Indeed he pulled off a victory at the 2015 Lyon Marathon in 2:10:14, almost two minutes outside his personal best of 2:08:22 set in Toronto in 2010. His last outing was a 2:17:51 fourth place in Dakar that February.
Kenya’s Eliud Kiplagat could also be a factor as he showed good form in his recent competitions. The 2013 Lyon Marathon champion finished runner-up this year in Wuhan in 2:10:57, just 13 seconds off his lifetime best of 2:10:44.
Another man to watch is Felix Kimutai. The Kenyan, 27, placed third in Linz in April in a PB of 2:12:28.
Others contenders for the podium having sub-2:15 credentials include Elisha Kipchirchir, who won in San Sebastian in 2015 in 2:13:56 and clocked 2:13:45 in May, as well as Eritrea’s Fishaye Mehari.
Ethiopia’s Mengistu Azmeraw, 24, will make his debut over the distance. He wound up third at both the Barcelona Half Marathon last year in a PB of 1:00:48 and this March at the Paris Half Marathon in 1:01:15.
The course record is held by Kenya’s Lukas Kanda who clocked 2:08:40 in 2011 as Kenyans and Ethiopians athletes dominate the list of award winners with four successes apiece in the brief history of this race. Kenya will probably take the lead on Sunday.
Can Tilahun improve the women’s course record?
On the women’s side, Ethiopia’s Konjit Tilahun has the second fastest PB of the field with 2:28:11 when she finished 11th in Dubai in 2014. That suggest that the 2:30:37 course record set by countrywoman Radiya Roba in 2010 could be within the 29-year-old reach. But Tilahun may not be in the same form she was in Dubai, having clocked just 2:44:24 in Cape Town in September, finishing eighth.
Kenya’s Emily Rotich should be a serious threat as she knows the route of the Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes very well, with three recent runner-up finishes. The 37-year-old, who has a best mark of 2:32:10 over the distance from 2011, also succeeded in the Lyon Marathon last year, which was her most recent competition. Will she break her streak of second-place finishes?
Not to be discounted is Ethiopia’s Zehara Kedir, who has a lifetime best of 2:33:46 but hasn’t worn a bib in 2016.
Frenchwoman Martha Komu has the fastest PB of the field with 2:25:33, but she’s not running at that same level at the moment, having clocked 2:38:34 in Paris several months ago.
Due to the terrorist attack in July the start has moved from the “Promenades des Anglais” to Allianz Riviera Stadium. The race then heads along the Mediterranean coastline crossing seven towns, including Saint-Laurent-du-Var and Antibes, before reaching the finish line in Cannes. Approximately 8000 runners are entered in this year’s race.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF