Almaz Ayana in New Delhi (© AFP / Getty Images)
The TCS Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday (16) will bring together three winners of global titles. Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba will be making their marathon debuts at the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race, while 2017 world champion Rose Chelimo is also in the field.
The incredibly deep men’s field, meanwhile, includes nine men with PBs faster than 2:06, led by 2016 Boston Marathon champion Lemi Berhanu.
Ayana and Dibaba, who won the world 5000m and 1500m titles respectively back in 2015, have battled injuries in recent years but have still managed to make a promising transition to the roads. Ayana, the 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion, clocked 1:07:12 on her half marathon debut when winning in New Delhi in 2017. And since returning this year after a three-year break, she has placed fifth in Madrid in 1:08:22 and third at the Great North Run in 1:07:10.
Dibaba, meanwhile, hasn’t raced on the roads since 2020, but her performances then were impressive. The world 1500m record-holder won the Valencia Half Marathon on her debut at the distance in 1:05:18, then three weeks later won over 5km in Barcelona.
The Ethiopian duo have never raced one another on the roads, but they have clashed 12 times on the track. Dibaba has the upper hand, 8-4, but Ayana won their more significant duels, including the 2015 World Championships, 2015 Diamond League Final, and 2014 African Championships.
The marathon is another beast entirely, though, and experience can count for a lot. Chelimo has plenty of experience on the roads, having won 2017 world gold and 2019 world silver, but the 33-year-old from Bahrain has always been more of a championship performer than a big city marathon runner. Her most recent marathon was in Rotterdam earlier this year, where she placed 19th in 2:44:22.
Celestine Chepchirchir is a late addition to the field, following her withdrawal from last week’s Chicago Marathon. The Kenyan set a PB of 2:20:10 in Seoul earlier this year, making her the fastest entrant for this weekend’s race.
Ayana and Dibaba aren’t the only notable marathon debutants lining up in Amsterdam. Their compatriot Tsehay Gemechu, the fourth-place finisher over 5000m at the 2019 World Championships, has a strong record at the half marathon and heads to the Dutch city in good form. A two-time winner in New Delhi and Lisbon, Gemechu recently reduced her half marathon PB to 1:05:01 when finishing second to Yalemzerf Yehualaw in Antrim.
Fellow Ethiopian Azmera Gebru will be returning to Amsterdam, following her third-place finishes there in 2018 and 2019. Compatriot Gebeyanesh Ayele also returns, following her fourth-place finish last year, while Sintayehu Tilahun could be one to watch, following her recent PBs over the half marathon (1:07:41) and marathon (2:22:19).
After nine successive men’s victories in Amsterdam, Kenya’s winning streak came to an end last year. But Cybrian Kotut hopes to kick-start the trend on Sunday.
The 30-year-old has won his past three marathons, his most recent victory coming in April in Hamburg, where he set a lifetime best of 2:04:47. The Kenyan challenge is strengthened by the likes of Titus Kipruto, who won this year’s Milan Marathon in a PB of 2:05:05, Norbert Kigen, runner-up in Amsterdam in 2017 and winner in Prague earlier this year, and Laban Korir, who will be making his sixth appearance in Amsterdam.
But 2016 Boston Marathon champion Lemi Berhanu leads a strong Ethiopian contingent. Berhanu’s PB of 2:04:33 dates back to 2016, but his runner-up place in Boston last year shows he is still competitive.
He will be joined on the startline by compatriots Tsegaye Getachew, winner in Riyadh earlier this year and owner of a 2:05:11 PB, Adeladlew Mamo, who ran 2:05:12 on his marathon debut earlier this year, and 2:05:52 performer Adugna Takele.
Other contenders in the field include Eritrea’s Afewerki Berhane, Japan’s Shuho Dairokuno, and marathon debutant Victor Chumo.
Celestine Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:20:10
Azmera Gebru (ETH) 2:20:48
Gebeyanesh Ayele (ETH) 2:21:22
Sintayehu Tilahun (ETH) 2:22:19
Rose Chelimo (BRN) 2:24:14
Fikrte Wereta (ETH) 2:26:15
Almaz Ayana (ETH) debut
Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) debut
Tsehay Gemechu (ETH) debut
Lemi Berhanu (ETH) 2:04:33
Cybrian Kotut (KEN) 2:04:47
Titus Kipruto (KEN) 2:05:05
Tsegaye Getachew (ETH) 2:05:11
Adeladlew Mamo (ETH) 2:05:12
Norbert Kigen (KEN) 2:05:13
Afewerki Berhane (ERI) 2:05:22
Adugna Takele (ETH) 2:05:52
Laban Korir (KEN) 2:05:54
Masreshe Bere (ETH) 2:06:44
Abraham Kiptoo (KEN) 2:06:59
Shuho Dairokuno (JPN) 2:07:12
Bazezew Asmare (ETH) 2:07:13
Josphat Boit (KEN) 2:07:20
Godadaw Belachew (ISR) 2:07:54
Yuki Sato (JPN) 2:08:17
Jake Robertson (NZL) 2:08:26
Akira Tomiyasu (JPN) 2:08:55
Deribe Tefera (ETH) 2:09:15
Bekele Muluneh (ETH) 2:09:51
Khalid Choukoud (NED) 2:09:55
Victor Chumo (KEN) debut
Huseydin Mohamed (ETH) debut