A quartet stacked with talent comprising Stephen Kiprotich and Wilson Kipsang on the men’s side and Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo for the women are contenders for the AIMS Best Marathon Runner (BMR) of the year Award, which will be presented in Athens to a male and a female athlete for the first time on November 8, 2013.
The award’s announcement will form the crowning moment of a gala to be staged by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) in cooperation with the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) in Athens to honour the winners. This will take place two days before the Athens Classic Marathon, which will be staged by SEGAS on 10th November, a race which has attracted over 30,000 participants in this and its associate events.
After the Berlin Marathon the AIMS Executive Board nominated candidates for this inaugural award. Board members have taken into account performances over the past twelve months from October 2012 to September 2013. With the candidates now confirmed, every AIMS member race has one vote to determine the winner. There are currently more than 350 AIMS member races.
Stephen Kiprotich and Wilson Kipsang are the contenders for the men’s title. This year Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich added the World Championships gold medal to his Olympic title when he ran 2:09:51 in Moscow. But the gold from London 2012 falls outside the period that determines the AIMS Best Marathon Runner of the Year. Prior to his World Championship triumph, the 24 year-old Kiprotich finished sixth in the London Marathon with 2:08:05.
Stephen Kiprotich was one place behind Wilson Kipsang, who clocked 2:07:47 in London. When the 31-year-old Kenyan arrived in Berlin in the last week in September, he was known as the runner who had missed the world record by just four seconds with his time of 2:03:42 in Frankfurt in 2011. However, Kipsang atoned for that miss in impressive style, breaking the world record by 15 seconds to set the new mark of 2:03:23.
Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo are vying for honours in the women’s award. When they raced each other in this year’s London Marathon, the 29 year-old Jeptoo won the title in 2:20:15, which was the fastest in the world between the beginning of October 2012 and the end of September 2013 – the time period AIMS has set for evaluating the candidates. Jeptoo will run her second marathon of the year in New York in November, but this will not count towards this year’s award.
The 34 year-old Kiplagat finished runner-up to Jeptoo in London with 2:21:32. The Kenyan then retained her World Championship marathon title, running 2:25:44 in warm conditions in Moscow. Kiplagat’s success was a landmark as she became the first woman to win consecutive World Championship marathons.
The day after the AIMS BMR Gala the award winners will visit the birthplace of their event. The annual opening ceremony of the Athens Classic Marathon will take place at the Marathon Tomb, marking the mass grave of the Greek soldiers who died in the battle in 490 BC and situated nearby the town of Marathon, the town that gave the event its name.
Following the ceremony, the Marathon Flame, which has travelled worldwide to various marathons during the past seven years, will be lit overlooking the start line of the Athens Classic Marathon. More than 11,000 runners will begin their race on the authentic marathon course on the morning of Sunday, 10th November.
The course starts in Marathon, circles around the Marathon Tomb and then over the hills towards Athens, where runners will be rewarded for their efforts on a testing course with a grandstand finish in the Panathenaikon Stadium, the old marble Olympic Arena from the first modern Games of 1896. Races of shorter distances will begin in Athens and also finish inside the stadium.
A further 20,000 runners have entered these events. While registration for the shorter races is closed, entries for the marathon are still open. The Athens Classic Marathon will feature an international elite field and this will be announced in due course.