Daniel Chebii winning at the 2012 Half Marathon in Budejovice. (© Organisers)
A strong group of African runners want to shine during the sunset on Saturday evening (7) and the O2 Prague Grand Prix, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, can boast of five men who have run under 28 minutes on the road for the 10km distance.
One runner who has already been successful on Czech roads in the past is Daniel Chebii, who won last year’s Half Marathon in Budejovice.
The Kenyan clocked a fine course record of 59:49 minutes but he has also proved that he can run very fast over shorter distances and won a 10km race in the German city of Dusseldorf in 27:43 three years ago.
In fact, he has an even faster time than that to his name but that was during the Zaandam 10 Miles race in The Netherlands last year, when he was second in 45:02 but passed the 10km point in 27:36.
Another runner will compete in Prague who has exactly the same personal best as Chebii: Ethiopia’s 21 year-old Mosinet Geremew.
Geremew won the 10km in Hyderabad, India, with 27:36 last November. This July, he also won Atlanta’s famous Peachtree Road Race over 10km 28:07.
“Daniel Chebii and Mosinet Geremew are the favourites,” said Jana Moberly, the elite athletes’ coordinator. “We hope that our new course (a 10km loop) will be fast. The men will go for a sub-28 minutes result and maybe we have the chance for an event record.”
The fastest time in the history of the O2 Prague Grand Prix was run by Philemon Limo in 2011, when the Kenyan clocked 27:34.
Another man who could do very well in Prague is Kiprop Limo. The Kenyan has a personal best of 27:40 and earlier his year he took the prestigious Stramilano Half Marathon title in Italy.
The fastest runners in the field are Kenya’s Peter Kamais and Uganda’s Wilson Busienei, who have bests of 27:09 and 27:21 respectively. However, to be fair, their best results date back some years.
Six more runners have bests between 28:00 and 28:30, including the Kenyan pair of Julius Lomerinyang and John Kipsang, as well as Ethiopia’s Kinde Atanaw. Prague may provide a good opportunity for them to run well under 28 minutes.
Emily Chebet looking to impress
For the first time, the race organisers have included a high-class women’s field into their traditional event.
Kenya’s Emily Chebet, the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships senior women’s winner, is the star attraction and she was also fourth in the 10000m final in Moscow last month ago, the 27 year-old Kenyan improving her personal best by over half-a-minute with 30:47.02.
On the road her PB stands at 30:58 minutes and she may well attack this time on Saturday.
There are also three other runners on the start list with personal bests of under 32 minutes on the roads.
Ethiopia’s 21 year-old Afera Godfay improved to 31:08.23 on the track in Sollentuna, Sweden, in June and she should be able to run much quicker than her 10km road best of 31:52.
Additionally, Kenya’s Esther Chemtai should be in contention. She has a road best of 31:27.
In contrast to the men’s race there are at least two Europeans who could do very well on Saturday evening:
Great Britain’s Gemma Steel improved to 31:36 in the USA a month ago while Natalya Popkova did well on the track. The Russian clocked a 10,000m best of 31:55.83 earlier this season.
Two Marathon runners will also test their speed in Prague: Great Britain’s Susan Partridge finished an excellent 10th in Moscow’s hot World Championship’s race while Croatia’s Lisa Stublic has a Marathon personal best of 2:25:44 and is tuning up for the New York Marathon in November.
Czech fans will also get the chance to see their young race walker Anezka Drahotova in action in a running event.
Just 18 year-old the athlete from Prague not only won the 10,000m Race Walk at the European Athletics Junior Championships, but she also made the 3000m Steeplechase final in Rieti, Italy, in July.
Drahotova also placed seventh among the seniors in the 20km Race Walk at the World Championships last month.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF