Geoffrey Kamworor breaks the world record at the Copenhagen Half Marathon (© Organisers)
Organisers of the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon have announced the most remarkable line-up in the history of this World Athletics Elite Label road race, to be held on 4 April.
Having staged a successful edition under intense measures against Covid-19 in September last year, the event is now set to host a limited number of 4000 participants on its traditional date of the first Sunday of April.
The race will see the long-awaited clash of the reigning and former world record-holders over the distance. Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya, now the world’s fastest half-marathon runner, improved the time set by his compatriot Geoffrey Kamworor in Valencia in December, bringing down the world record to 57:32 from 58:01. Kamworor, who has three World Athletics Half Marathon Championships gold medals under his belt, will be back on the roads following his recovery from surgery after he was hit by a motorcycle in June last year.
The two Kenyans will be joined by two sub-59 minute runners in Amedework Walelegn of Ethiopia, the Istanbul Half Marathon record-holder who won in 59:50 in 2018, and Uganda's Stephen Kissa, who made his debut over the distance in February 2020 and finished the year with a time of 58:56. Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton, sixth at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia last year, will also be one of the fastest athletes on the start line.
Home hopes in Istanbul will be led by Kaan Kigen Ozbilen, who holds the national record with 59:48. Aras Kaya, European cross country champion in 2019, will also be a strong contender in the event that incorporates the National Half Marathon Championships.
The women’s field is equally as strong. Kenya’s marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei and the women-only half-marathon world record-holder Peres Jepchirchir, plus the second fastest female half-marathon runner of all time Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia, will head the line-up.
Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the race record-holder and the reigning world marathon champion, will be a co-favourite in the race along with Joan Chelimo Melly.
The European women-only record-holder Melat Kejeta from Germany will also be on the start line on 4 April. The home crowd expects Kejeta’s record to be challenged by Yasemin Can.
Kamworor, Kandie, Kosgei and Yehualaw had been among the athletes set to race at the Ras Al Khamimah Half Marathon in February before it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Can Korkmazoglu (organisers) for World Athletics
Top 10 fastest in the 2021 Istanbul Half Marathon fields:
Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) 1:04:46
Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 1:04:49
Joan Chelimo Melly (KEN) 1:05:04
Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:05:06
Peres Jepchirchir (KEN) 1:05:06
Melat Kejeta (GER) 1:05:18
Alia Saeed Mohammed (UAE) 1:06:13
Yasemin Can (TUR) 1:06:20
Bekelech Gudeta (ETH) 1:07:03
Hiwot Gebrekidan (ETH) 1:07:36
Kibiwott Kandie (KEN) 57:32
Geoffrey Kamworor (KEN) 58:01
Amedework Walelegn (ETH) 58:53
Stephen Kissa (UGA) 58:56
Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 59:09
Kaan Kigen Ozbilen (TUR) 59:48
Aras Kaya (TUR) 1:00:51
Roncer Kipkorir (KEN) 1:01:19
Amanal Petros (GER) 1:01:37
Getaye Gelaw (ETH) 1:01:42