Defending champion Mosinet Geremew will contest the TCS World 10K Bengaluru with several ambitions in mind when he stands on the start line at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race on Sunday (21).
Firstly, the Ethiopian will be aiming for his third successive victory, an unprecedented feat as no other runner – man or woman – has ever won in Bengaluru more than once since the race started in 2008.
Secondly, he’ll be aiming to get back to his thrilling form of 2012 when he twice ran faster than 28 minutes for the distance, culminating in a PB of 27:36.
“I love this race and Bengaluru,” said Geremew. “I have run well here the past two years and there is always a very strong field, and I like to push myself. I am now a confirmed road runner. I feel I have more injuries when I am running on the track, and now a fast marathon is my target after making my debut this year in China [when he finished second at the Xaimen Marathon in 2:10:20].”
World 10km record-holder Leonard Komon sat alongside Geremew at the pre-race press conference on Thursday.
The Kenyan struggled with injuries during 2015 and 2016 but has shown significant signs earlier this year of the form that took him to into the record books in 2010 when he ran 26:44.
“It’s my first time in India and I am privileged to be here,” he said. “My training has been going well again now that my injuries are gone. I am ready to do my best.”
Like Komon, New Zealand’s Zane Robertson is racing in India for the first time.
Robertson ran his 10km best of 27:28 when winning in Berlin last October, which stood up as the fastest time in the world in 2016, and he is aiming to be the first man from outside East Africa to win the race.
Nevertheless, Kenya has played a big part in Robertson’s elevation to being a world-class runner.
Now 27, Robertson expanded on his intriguing back story which has meant he has trained in Kenya regularly since he was a teenager, including in recent months.
“In high school, my brother and I didn’t fit in with all the other kids and we joined running clubs,” said Robertson.
“We met Kenyan runners and then asked if we could go to train there. They were extremely welcoming, our parents thought we were a little crazy but they supported us. Initially it was hard, we were only 17, but we are now top of the world and competing with the Africans.
“I don’t think Kenyans have a genetic advantage; it's how you grow up. Our mother encouraged us to eat right, a natural diet, and we ran to school. We had an active lifestyle and ran cross country bare foot. It's what you eat and how you train.”
The course record of 27:44, set by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor in 2014, will be in the sights of all the top men’s runners.
Irene Cheptai made the headlines when she won the world cross-country title in March. The diminutive Kenyan will be having her first competition since that race in Bengaluru.
With a 10km best of 31:45 from 2014, Cheptai’s own target is the women’s course record of 31:48 set by her compatriot Lucy Kabuu three years ago.
“I celebrated my gold medal with my family but now it is time to start competing again,” said Cheptai. “My aim this summer will be the 10,000m at the World Championships in London.”
She will be challenged by fellow Kenyan and 2012 winner Helah Kiprop. “This is actually my sixth time in Bengaluru and I always enjoy the race even if I have not won since my first time,” said the world marathon silver medallist. “I finished second last year so maybe I can win again.”
Approximately 24,000 runners will take to the roads of Bengaluru for the five different races in what has become an annual event on the third Sunday in May. This year the elite runners will compete for prize money totalling USD$ 205,059.
Organisers for the IAAF