The defending champion and race record holder are among a contingent of strong rivals for Moses Mosop when he runs the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on Sunday May 11.
While the participation of this outstanding talent from Kenya has long been announced, the line-up of his toughest rivals is now known. They include 2013 winner, Kenyan-born Nicholas Kemboi (Qatar) and Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya), who holds the race record of 2:05:39.
The field has impressive strength in depth with eight men who have run under 2:08 and a further six with 2:10 to their credit. The women’s field includes Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia, the 2011 New York Marathon champion.
The race presents a tantalising prospect in the 20th anniversary edition of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon which is an IAAF Gold Label Race, the top category of road races awarded by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“I think this is an elite field fit to celebrate the 20th anniversary. We can look forward to a great race and hope to have times of around 2:06 in the men’s race. If the weather is good, the race record of Eliud Kiptanui might even be in danger,” said Jana Moberly, who is the co-ordinator for the elite field at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.
Moses Mosop is the second fastest marathoner of all time with his 2:03:06, run in Boston in 2011 although the course does not confirm to record regulations. Now recovered from a knee injury, he hopes to run between 2:06 and 2:07 in Prague.
Taking into account the opposition, this should make for an exciting contest. The race record holder Eliud Kiptanui caused a sensation in winning the 2010 race with 2:05:39. The Kenyan hasn’t been able to get close to that kind of time in his recent marathons but others on the start list might well have a chance of doing so.
Among them is last year’s winner Nicholas Kemboi, who ran 2:08:51 for victory in very warm conditions and hasn’t run a marathon since. Kemboi, born in Kenya and running for Qatar since 2005, has a best of 2:08:01. Another expected of making a major advance is Patrick Terer.
The Kenyan’s personal best is 2:08:51 and he finished third last year in 2:10:10 but that was after problems with a visa meant he only arrived at short notice in Prague. “I’ll come back and win,” was Terer’s promise after the race.
Terer has lived up to the first part of his promise in returning to race this year, but making good the second part will be a tough proposition.
Apart from Mosop and Kiptanui there are another four athletes who have already run under 2:07: the Ethiopians Dadi Yami (2:05:41) and Deresa Chimsa (2:05:42) who both ran their personal bests in Dubai in 2012, as well as the Kenyans Nicholas Manza (2:06:34) and Nicholas Kipkemboi (2:06:35).
A total of 14 runners entered have best times under 2:10 which highlights the potential drama in Prague on May 11. Only the prestigious Boston Marathon this spring had more runners with personal bests under 2:10. This reflects Prague’s rise into the top flight of marathon races.
Two women take centre-stage in considering the women’s field: Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia and Flomena Chepchirchir from Kenya.
Dado enjoyed the biggest success of her career so far when she won the New York Marathon in November 2011, setting what remains her personal best of 2:23:15. Beating her personal best in Prague is the objective for the woman who has won the Rome Marathon for three consecutive years (2009 to 2011).
She showed good form in January this year, finishing third in the Dubai Marathon. She ran the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon at the beginning of April, using the opportunity to become more familiar with conditions in the Czech capital along the way to finishing ninth in 71:15.
“Firehiwot Dado is in the form to run a personal best,” said Jana Moberly, who has also been able to recruit Flomena Chepchirchir at short notice. The Kenyan has been producing strong consistent performances under 2:25 in recent years and dropped out of the Boston Marathon at 25 km on Easter Monday.
If Boston turned out not to be her day, she is keen to show it was only a temporary setback when she runs in Prague where she finished second two years ago. She ran her best of 2:23:00 when finishing second in Frankfurt last year.
Apart from the two favourites in Dado and Chepchirchir, another eight women have personal bests under 2:30 and will be on the start line for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.
Leading Men Contenders:
- Moses Mosop KEN 2:03:06
- Eliud Kiptanui KEN 2:05:39
- Dadi Yami ETH 2:05:41
- Deresa Chimsa ETH 2:05:42
- Nicholas Manza KEN 2:06:34
- Nicholas Kipkemboi KEN 2:06:35
- Yared Asmerom ERI 2:07:27
- Teferi Kebede ETH 2:07:32
- Nicholas Kemboi QAT 2:08:01
- Abere Kassw ETH 2:08:15
- Dereje Tadesse ETH 2:08:46
- Patrick Terer KEN 2:08:52
- Kennedy Kwemoi Naibei KEN 2:09:54
- Asmare Workneh ETH 2:09:56
Leading Women Contenders:
- Flomena Chepchirchir KEN 2:23:00
- Firehiwot Dado ETH 2:23:15
- Aberu Mekuria ETH 2:26:07
- Yeshimebet Tadesse ETH 2:26:17
- Bethelhem Moges ETH 2:26:42
- Yuliya Ruban UKR 2:27:00
- Eunice Kales KEN 2:27:19
- Fantu Eticha ETH 2:27:36
- Beatrice Jepkemboi KEN 2:27:41
- Konjit Tilahun ETH 2:28:11