David Toniok winning at the 2014 Edinburgh Marathon (© organisers / Lesley Martin)
With a number of sub-2:15 runners in the field, the course record of the Edinburgh Marathon is set to come under sustained assault in the 14th edition of Scotland’s largest road race, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday (31).
The current mark of 2:15:26 was set 10 years ago by Kenya’s Zachary Kihara but his compatriot David Toniok came so close to beating that time when claiming victory 12 months ago in 2:15:33. Toniok will bid to make the course record his own when he returns to defend his title.
Toniok certainly has the credentials to improve the course record, and perhaps substantially, having four times ran faster than 2:12, although his most recent performance of that calibre came in 2013.
Now 31, and a regular training partner of Geoffrey Mutai in Kapngetuny, Toniok will get a reunion with the 2014 runner-up Japhet Koech, whose participation last time was financed by crowd funding from the public and the fame brought by featuring in Adharanand Finn’s book ‘Running with the Kenyans’, which told of the fight of many to test themselves overseas.
“Training has been going well,” said Koech, who was fifth on his Edinburgh debut two years ago.
Both will be challenged by two good newcomers to the Scottish capital with Ethiopia’s Ebisa Merga, who has a best of 2:12:03, arriving along with former Krakow Marathon winner Peter Wanjiru, while Ugandan Ben Siwa has stepped up for his first tilt at a full marathon after setting a half marathon best of 1:03:55 in Bristol last autumn.
The Way ahead
Domestic hopes will be led by local runner Neil Renault and the 40-year-old Englishman Steve Way, who was 10th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, seven years after giving up what he admits was a unhealthy lifestyle, and with him weighing more than 100 kilos before he started running.
Way has since become a torch bearer for people who want to change their lifestyle for a healthier way of living.
“I just had to do something to change my life,” he said. “It was more the smoking than anything else that was really bad for me. And running proved pretty effective to help me stop.”
Joan Kigen of Kenya, second at the Bournemouth Marathon in 2013 and 2014, will start as a heavy favourite in the women’s marathon, chasing a course record of 2:33:36 set by Russia’s Sinaida Semjonowa in 2003.
Kigen has a personal best of 2:31:27 from her run in Bournemouth two years ago. In March, she got her first win over the classic distance when she won the Jerusalem Marathon, although the hot conditions contributed to the relatively modest winning time of 2:45:55.
Charlotte Firth heads the British challenge in the women’s race.
In total, organisers are expecting more than 30,000 participants over two days of their Marathon Festival with a half marathon and relay included.
Mark Woods for IAAF