Amane Gobena of Ethiopia breaks the tape at the 2010 Osaka Marathon (Yohei Kamiyama/Agence SHOT) © Copyright

Teimet and Gobena back to defend titles in Seoul - Preview

Kenyan Sylvester Teimet and Amane Gobena of Ethopia will return to defend their titles at the 82nd Seoul International Marathon on Sunday (20). Once again this Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, has attracted deep fields with top runners in both men’s and women’s races.

Plenty of fast company for Teimet - Men’s race

The 27-year-old Teimet defends his title having won with a big 2:06:49 personal best last year cutting more than three minutes off his previous best. Teimet, who also finished third in this Marathon in 2009, has recorded season’s best in Korea for three successive years, but was unable to produce similar performance in Germany where he finished in 14th place in Frankfurt last October. Thirty-one-year-old Kenyan Paul Kirui returns to Seoul following a third place finish last year in a fast 2:07:35. The 2004 World Half Marathon champion has already clocked 2:12:19 in Xiamen this January.

But there are plenty of others who can challenge these two top three finishers this time around. Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri, 34, has the fastest personal best in the field having run 2:05:30 in London 2008. More recently Goumri was fourth in New York last November clocking a 2:10:51 season’s best there.

Twenty-eight-year-old Kenyan David Kiyeng also returns to Seoul with some good performances in 2010. Kiyeng was fourth in this Marathon last March (2:09:00) and went on to win another race, the Joongang Marathon in Seoul in November clocking a 2:08:15 season’s best. Fellow countryman Edwin Komen races here after a three-year break. The 31-year-old has run his two fastest marathons in Seoul, the best three years ago in 2:07:45, a personal best for a third place finish.

Also in the race is Uganda’s national record holder Daniel Chepyegon, who will race in Asia for the very first time. The 24-year-old from Kapchorwa ran the 2:08:24 NR for a fifth place finish in Frankfurt last October. Ethiopian Wegayehu Girma will race for the first time in this Marathon, but set a 2:08:25 personal best in the Joongang Marathon in the same city in November 2011. The best Korean in the race is Ji Young-Jun, who has a personal best of 2:08:30 from 2009. The 29-year-old reigning Asian Games champion has finished in the top three in this race two times, in 2003 and 2006. These names include only the cream of the crop, in addition there are plenty of other 2:10 runners racing on Sunday.

Strong momentum for Gobena - Women’s race

In the women’s race 28-year-old Gobena won here in a 2:24:13 last year and also won the 2010 Osaka ladies Marathon (2:25:14). This season Gobena has already notched another win in Xiamen in January clocking a 2:31:49 season’s best.

Other top names from the 2010 race are missing although the sixth place finisher, Kenyan Martha Komu, will race again. The 27-year-old finished with a 2:30:36 season’s best here last year. 29-year-old Chinese Wei Yanan returns to Seoul having won this competition twice, in 2002 and in 2007 when she set a 2:23:12 personal best. Forty-year-old Russian Irina Timofeyeva has a 2:24:14 personal best from 2008, but has been running 2:30 plus times lately. 24-year-old Robe Guta of Ethiopia returns to race here for the second time. In 2009 she won in a fast 2:25:37 time, her second fastest career clocking behind 2:24:35 personal best from 2006.

Thirty-seven-year-old Romanian Lidia Simon, the 2001 World champion in this event, will be in the race too. It will be the first Marathon in Korea for the veteran runner who is still in top form having run 2:27:11 in Osaka last year and has a personal best 2:22:54, also in Osaka in 2000. 24-year-old Asnakech Egigayehu from Ethiopia can also be counted as a player in this race. She set a 2:25:50 personal best winning the Milan marathon last year.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF