Dickson Kipsang Tuwei will defend his Yellow River Estuary International Marathon title when he returns to the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in the Chinese city of Dongying on Sunday (7).
Before making his marathon debut last year, Tuwei had only once raced at a distance longer than one mile. Then, competing in what was just the second marathon of his career, he achieved an upset victory in Dongying last year with a winning mark of 2:09:27, improving his personal best by more than three minutes and beating the course record of 2:11:44 set by compatriot Isaac Macharia in 2010.
The 24-year-old’s last outing came three months ago in Lagos where he clocked a modest 2:16:50 to finish fourth. He will be one of 15 men on the start line on Sunday with a sub-2:10 personal best.
With a PB of 2:05:41 from the 2012 Dubai marathon, Dadi Yami Gemeda is the fastest man in the field. The 35-year-old Ethiopian has registered four other sub-2:10 results in his career, but his last race was a 15th-place finish at the 2015 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:13:40.
Kenya’s Marius Kipserem is another man to watch on Sunday. The 28-year-old set his career best of 2:06:11 when winning the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon, following victories in Hefei and Guiyang in 2015. His most recent performance, though, was a 23rd-place finish at this year’s Tokyo Marathon in 2:13:53.
Peter Cheruiyot Kirui, also from Kenya, has a PB of 2:06:31 that dates back to 2011. The 29-year-old, who finished sixth in the 10,000m at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, started his 2017 season with a winning mark of 1:00:56 at the Santa Pola International Half Marathon in January.
The contingent of Kenyan runners also features Samuel Ndungu, who won the 2012 Lake Biwa Marathon in a PB of 2:07:04 on his debut at the distance. He has run faster than 2:10 on four other occasions, including a victory in Lisbon in 2014 and a second win at the Lake Biwa Marathon in 2015.
After debuting at the 2008 Nairobi Marathon, 32-year-old Elijah Kiprono Kemboi registered two victories in 2011 at the Antwerp and Kosice marathons and lowered his personal best to 2:07:34 at the 2013 Frankfurt Marathon. He has proved himself to be a consistent runner with sub-2:10 marks achieved in each of the past five years, which suggests he remains a serious threat to those with winning aspirations in Dongying.
The field has three other runners with PBs faster than 2:08: Kenyan duo Mulugeta Wami and Silas Cheboit, as well as Essa Ismail Rashed from Qatar.
The favourite for the women’s race is Ethiopia’s Workenesh Edesa, who will be contesting just her fourth marathon on Sunday. The 26-year-old remained unbeaten in her first two marathons with a triumphant debut in Marrakech in 2015 and a surprising victory at the 2016 Xiamen Marathon where she knocked more than seven minutes off her PB with 2:24:04.
She returned to Xiamen this year but had to settle for second place in 2:26:27. This time Edesa will be hoping to return to winning ways and could even attack the course record of 2:28:27 set by compatriot Mestawet Tufa in 2014.
Kenya’s Georgina Rono is the fastest woman in the field. The 36-year-old has a PB of 2:21:39 set when finishing second at the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon. She hasn’t run faster than 2:30 since 2015, though, and while she won in Doha four months ago, her winning mark was 2:38:14.
Fellow Kenyan veteran Agnes Kiprop, 37, is more consistent. After setting her PB of 2:23:54 in Frankfurt in 2011, Kiprop has run faster than 2:28 on five occasions, including her victory at the 2012 Prague Marathon and 2015 Hengshui Marathon.
Another sub-2:25 runner toeing the line is Betelhem Moges of Ethiopia, who clocked a best of 2:24:29 at the 2015 Dubai Marathon before winning the Beijing Marathon later that year. The 26-year-old clocked 2:33:44 to finished third in Hong Kong in February.
The field also includes Ethiopia’s Letebrhan Haylay Gebreslase. The 26-year-old, with a PB of 2:25:24, scored victories in Hong Kong and Rotterdam respectively in 2015 and clocked 2:33:56 to finish fourth in Hong Kong three month ago.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF