Nguse Amlosom wins the Rock'n'Roll Lisbon Half Marathon Vodafone RTP (© Organisers / Photorun.net)
Course record assaults are the goals at both the Rock 'n' Roll Lisbon Marathon EDP and Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Santander Totta RTP – IAAF Gold Label Road Races – in the Portuguese capital on Sunday (2).
Some of the key contenders know the marathon course – which sets off in the iconic city of Cascais and then follows along the coast where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Tagus River – and will be setting out to topple the 2:08:21 standard set by Samuel Ndungu in 2014.
The key contenders include 2014 world half marathon silver medallist Samuel Tsegay from Eritrea, who was sixth in the 2013 Lisbon Half Marathon, and Kenyan Alfred Kering, who was second at the Rabat Marathon this year. Tsegay has a 2:07:28 personal best from 2011 while Kering's 2:07:11 lifetime best was set in 2010.
Others to watch include Ethiopian Seboka Nigusse (2:09:14); Kenya's Reuben Kerio (2:09:05), the winner this year in Brescia; Kenyan Patrick Cheruiyot (2:09:48), this year's runner-up in Madrid; Cuthbert Nyasango from Zimbabwe (2:09:52), who was seventh at the 2012 Olympics; and Spaniard Ayad Lamdassem, a two-time European cross-country silver medallist.
Asbel Kipsang of Kenya and South African Stephen Mokoka, who boast 2:07:30 and 2:07:40 personal bests respectively, will be on pace-setting duty.
Kenyan Samuel Kiplimo Kosgei, a former world record-holder for 25km who achieved his personal best of 2:06:56 earlier this year in Dubai, was a late scratch due to a visa issue.
The women’s field also features a strong line-up.
Ethiopian Guteni Shone is the fastest at 2:23:32, courtesy of her victory at the 2015 Seoul Dong-A Marathon. Meanwhile, her countrywoman Shanko Genemo (2:24:31) will be gunning for her third marathon triumph of the year after victories in Mumbai and Vienna.
The field also includes a solid Kenyan quartet: Brigid Kosgei (2:27:45), the winner in Milan this year; Esther Ndiema (2:28:37), the 2014 Turin champion and this year's Rabat runner-up; Rose Chepchumba (2:29:09), winner in Cannes last year; and Sarah Chepchirchir (2:30:08), seventh this year in Hamburg.
Amlosom and Mutai return to defend half marathon titles
In the half marathon, the course record targets are 1:00:19 set by Kenyan Wilson Kirop in 2013, and Mary Keitany's 1:07:53 set in 2011.
In the men's contest, the front line will include defending champion Nguse Amlosom of Eritrea, who was ninth in the Olympic 10,000m last month. He'll be backed up by compatriots Amanuel Mesel, who has a 1:00:10 personal best, and Dawit Weldeslasie, third at last year's Valencia half Marathon.
Also arriving with fast credentials are Uganda’s Geoffrey Kusuro and Kenyan Remmy Ndiwa, who clocked 59:43 and 1:00:06 at the Rome-Ostia Half Marathon, respectively, in 2015 and 2016.
Other familiar names include Ukraine's Serhiy Lebid, the nine-time European cross-country champion, and Brazil's Paulo Roberto Paula, who was eighth in the 2012 Olympic marathon.
In the women's race, injury forced Kenya's Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong to the sidelines, shifting the attention to her compatriot Beatrice Mutai, the winner last year winner, who'll be aiming to become only the second woman to claim two consecutive titles. The first was course record-holder Keitany.
She'll be challenged by Kenyans Margaret Agai, who was second in Lisbon last year; Valary Aiyabei, winner of the Barcelona Marathon this year; Lucy Kabuu, who was fourth at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships; and Magdalene Masai, the third place finisher at this year's Rome-Ostia half marathon.
Others to watch include Ethiopian Genet Yalew, who was fifth at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships earlier this year, and Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix, the 10,000m silver medallist at June's European Championships.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF