Previews13 Oct 2023

Legese and Bekere head Amsterdam Marathon fields


Ashete Bekere finishes second in the 2022 Tokyo Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)

Birhanu Legese and Bernard Koech have the chance to push each other to fast times at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, while Ashete Bekere is on the hunt for “something special” at the World Athletics Platinum Label road race on Sunday (15).

Strong fields have been assembled for the event in the Dutch capital, with Legese and Koech among the nine sub-2:05 men in the field and Bekere joined by her fellow sub-2:19 runner Tiruye Mesfin as well as four other athletes who have dipped under 2:23.

Ethiopia’s Legese is a two-time Tokyo Marathon winner and the 29-year-old will aim to return to winning ways in Amsterdam after being unable to finish his last marathon in London in April. He demonstrated his form with a half marathon PB of 58:59 in Barcelona in the lead up to that race in the UK capital and his marathon PB of 2:02:48, set when finishing second in Berlin in 2019, makes him the fourth-fastest marathon runner of all time.

That lifetime best means Legese is the quickest in the field by more than a minute and he hopes to make his mark ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

“I really want to run a fast time, with an eye on the Olympics,” he said at the pre-event press conference.

There will, however, be a number of athletes who will be ready to challenge if Legese is not quite at his best. Kenya’s Koech is also looking to attack the course record of 2:03:39 and he has the benefit of experience.

"Amsterdam has a special place in my heart,” said the 35-year-old, who finished second in this event in 2021 behind course record-holder Tamirat Tola. “I am running here for the fourth time and am as fit as I was two years ago.”

The time that Koech ran on that occasion – 2:04:09 – remains his PB and it is the third-fastest mark recorded at the Amsterdam Marathon. He matched it with the time he ran to win the Hamburg Marathon in April, while he finished fourth in the Chicago Marathon last year.

He will be joined on the start line by his compatriot Joshua Belet, who finished second behind Koech in Hamburg earlier this year after running 2:04:33 on his marathon debut. He went on to race at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest but did not finish.

Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu Hayle, the 2016 Boston Marathon winner, also has a PB of 2:04:33 to his name from seven years ago, while their fellow sub-2:05 athletes are Hailemaryam Kiros (2:04:41), Asrar Hiyrden (2:04:43), Cybrian Kotut (2:04:47), Barselius Kipyego (2:04:48) and Bazezew Asmare (2:04:57), who finished third in Amsterdam last year.

Khalid Choukoud leads the domestic entries, targeting an Olympic qualifying time. “My plan is to run really hard,” he said. "I really want to go to the Olympics for the second time.”

Kenya’s Kennedy Kimutai, who has a half marathon PB of 58:28 from Valencia in 2021, makes his marathon debut.

In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Bekere will be looking to add another success to a CV that includes wins in Berlin, Valencia and Rotterdam during her 12-year marathon career.

The 35-year-old set her PB of 2:17:58 when finishing second in Tokyo last year and she also has a 2:18:18 performance from London in 2021, when she placed third. Her Berlin Marathon victory was claimed in 2019 and she also secured a major marathon podium place earlier this year, finishing third in Tokyo.

She makes her debut at the Amsterdam Marathon, where the course record is 2:17:20 set by Almaz Ayana last year.

 "If all conditions cooperate, I want to show something special,” Bekere said.

She goes up against her compatriot Tiruye Mesfin, who ran her PB of 2:18:47 when finishing sixth in Valencia in December. The 21-year-old finished second in Hamburg in April, running 2:20:18, and she will be racing her third career marathon in Amsterdam. She ran a half marathon PB of 1:06:31 in Lisbon in March.

Kenya’s Dorcas Tuitoek, who won the Hamburg Marathon in a PB of 2:20:09 ahead of Mesfin earlier this year, will hope to challenge, as will Ethiopia’s Sisay Meseret Gola, who set her PB of 2:20:50 when finishing second in the 2022 Seville Marathon. The 25-year-old also finished fifth in that year’s Berlin Marathon and was runner-up in the Osaka Women's Marathon in January.

The field also features Ethiopia’s Atalel Anmut and Kenya’s Marion Kibor, plus Linet Masai, Kenya’s 2009 world 10,000m champion, who ran her marathon PB of 2:23:46 in Amsterdam in 2018. Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, who claimed 3000m steeplechase silver at the London 2012 Olympics, is set to make her marathon debut. 

Leading entries

Ashete Bekere (ETH) 2:17:58
Tiruye Mesfin (ETH) 2:18:47
Dorcas Tuitoek (KEN) 2:20:09
Sisay Meseret Gola (ETH) 2:20:50
Atalel Anmut (ETH) 2:22:21
Marion Kibor (KEN) 2:22:35
Linet Masai (KEN) 2:23:46
Anchialem Haymanot (ETH) 2:24:15
Zenebu Bihonzegn (ETH) 2:24:16
Meseret Abebayehu (ETH) 2:24:30
Neheng Khatala (LES) 2:28:06
Jill Holterman (NED) 2:28:18
Hanna Lindholm (SWE) 2:28:59
Sylvia Medugu (KEN) 2:29:09
Sofia Assefa (ETH) debut

Birhanu Legese (ETH) 2:02:48
Bernard Koech (KEN) 2:04:09
Joshua Belet (KEN) 2:04:33
Lemi Berhanu Hayle (ETH) 2:04:33
Hailemaryam Kiros (ETH) 2:04:41
Asrar Hiyrden (ETH) 2:04:43
Cybrian Kotut (KEN) 2:04:47
Barselius Kipyego (KEN) 2:04:48
Bazezew Asmare (ETH) 2:04:57
Adeledelew Mamo (ETH) 2:05:12
Shifera Tamru (ETH) 2:05:18
Bethwel Chumba (KEN) 2:05:42
Haymanot Alew (ETH) 2:05:57
Samuel Tsegay (SWE) 2:06:53
Victor Kipchirchir (KEN) 2:06:54
Gizealew Ayana (ETH) 2:07:15
Abdelilah El Maimouni (MAR) 2:08:50
Khalid Choukoud (NED) 2:09:34
Kennedy Kimutai (KEN) debut

Pages related to this article