Previews15 Dec 2023

Former world record-holders Chepngetich and Yeshaneh renew rivalry in Chonburi


Ruth Chepngetich wins the Nagoya Women's Marathon (© Kazuaki Matsunaga / Agence SHOT)

Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh will clash at the Bangsaen21 Half Marathon – a World Athletics Platinum Label road race – in the Thai city of Chonburi on Sunday (17).

The two road running stars are evenly matched at the half marathon distance. Yeshaneh set a world record of 1:04:31 back in 2020, which Chepngetich broke with her 1:04:02 clocking in Istanbul one year later.

They have clashed over the half marathon on three occasions, with Yeshaneh coming out on top in two of those races, including their most recent encounter in Buenos Aires, which the Ethiopian won in 1:06:10 as Chepngetich placed third.

Chepngetich started the year with victory at the Nagoya Marathon in 2:18:08. More recently she finished second in Chicago in 2:15:37, the seventh-fastest marathon performance in history. She has claimed podium finishes in two half marathons this year, placing second in Istanbul (1:07:18) and third in Buenos Aires (1:06:18), so she’s aiming to end her year on a high with victory in Chonburi.

Yeshaneh has raced more sparingly than her Kenyan rival, finishing fourth at the Boston Marathon in April before her victory in Buenos Aires four months later.

It won’t simply be a two-woman race, though. Like Chepngetich, Sheila Chepkirui heads to Thailand off the back of a speedy marathon clocking, having finished runner-up in Berlin in September in 2:17:49. The former track specialist has a half marathon PB of 1:04:36 and was victorious in her last race over the distance, clocking 1:05:02 in Berlin last year.

Degitu Azimeraw will return to racing on Sunday. The Ethiopian hasn’t raced since April 2022, but is a 1:06:07 performer for the half marathon and has a marathon PB of 2:17:58.

Angela Tanui’s half marathon PB of 1:07:16 dates back to 2016, but the Kenyan boasts a marathon best of 2:17:57, set when winning the 2021 Amsterdam Marathon in a course record, which suggests she’s capable of a much quicker time for the half.

Britain’s Charlotte Purdue returns to Chonburi after finishing sixth last year. The Briton has a PB of 1:08:23, and recently improved her marathon best to 2:22:17.

Given the quality of the field, the course record of 1:07:45 – set last year by Kenya’s Hellen Obiri – looks to be in danger, should the conditions be kind.

Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura, the 2021 Chicago Marathon champion, leads the men’s field. The 26-year-old boasts a PB of 58:36, and is an accomplished performer over the full distance. He has a marathon best of 2:04:29 and recently finished fifth at the Chicago Marathon two months ago in 2:05:29.

Nobert Kipkoech Kigen is another sub-60-minute performer. He clocked 59:42 back in 2016, then set a marathon PB of 2:05:13 one year later, but he hasn’t raced since the 2022 Amsterdam Marathon, where he finished seventh in 2:05:32.

Amos Kipruto is more accomplished at the full marathon distance than the half, having earned bronze over the classic distance at the 2019 World Championships. In recent years he has reduced his PB to 2:03:30 in Valencia in 2020 and then to 2:03:13 in Tokyo last year, suggesting his half marathon PB of 1:00:24 is due for serious revision.

Fellow Kenyan Enock Onchari and Ethiopia’s Tsegay Getachew are two more marathon specialists who’ll be on the start line on Sunday. Getachew won last year’s Amsterdam Marathon in 2:04:49, while Onchari – who has never contested a standalone half marathon – clocked a PB of 2:05:47 earlier this year in Seville.

The course record of 1:01:56, set last year by Josphat Kemei, seems to be living on borrowed time.

Leading entries

Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:04:02
Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 1:04:31
Sheila Chepkirui (KEN) 1:04:36
Degitu Azimeraw (ETH) 1:06:07
Angela Tanui (KEN) 1:07:16
Charlotte Purdue (GBR) 1:08:10

Seifu Tura (ETH) 58:36
Nobert Kipkoech Kigen (KEN) 59:42
Amos Kipruto (KEN) 1:00:24
Tsegay Getachew (ETH) 1:01:51
Enock Onchari (KEN) debut

Pages related to this article