Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese during the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Prague, Czech Republic

World record holder Tadese facing strong challenge in Prague Half

Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese can expect tough opposition from a talented Kenyan contingent as well a rival closer to home at the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 6 April, after the race organisers announced more of their elite field on Tuesday (26).

Tadese’s compatriot Teklemariam Medhin’s confidence for his debut at the Half Marathon distance should be sky high after an excellent performance at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz on Sunday, where he finished with a bronze medal.

This quality of that performance suggests that an impressive debut is on the cards and his other credentials include seventh place in the London 2012 Olympic Games 10000m final.

The impressive Kenyan entry includes three men with sub-60 minute personal bests, in addition to the World record holder Tadese.

The most prominent of this trio is Philemon Limo, who won the Hervis Prague Half Marathon with what was then a course record of 59:30 two years ago, which is still his best.

In 2012, he was third in this race in 60:03 and is a familiar face on the Prague running scene over other distances, winning the Mattoni 10km in 2011, with 27:34 and he was third when running his marathon debut in the capital in last year in 2:09:25.

The athlete entered with the second fastest personal best behind Tadese is not Limo but another Kenyan: Pius Kirop. He ran 59:25 when placing fourth in the Berlin Half Marathon last year and produced another fine Half Marathon performance later in 2012 that year, finishing fourth in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.

Kirop was only ten seconds away from the bronze medal position in a race dominated again by Tadese. Daniel Chebii is the third Kenyan with a prestigious best of below one hour, boasting a time of 59:49 to his name and Henry Kiplagat is only a fraction outside that benchmark after clocking 60:01 in Prague a year ago for second place.

Prague’s world class course record is 58:47, set by Ethiopia’s Atsedu Tsegay 12 months ago.

The women’s race will have half a dozen runners involved with personal bests of sub-70 minutes.

Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa is the fastest athlete entered with a best of 67:49.

Degefa will be up against the experienced Gladys Cherono. The 29 year-old Kenyan was third a year ago, improving her best to 68:18 and confirmed her talent  in the summer of 2012 when she won the 5000m and 10000m long distance double at the African Championships.

Ethiopia’s Waganesh Mekasha has recently shown very promising form, winning the Marrakech Half Marathon in January with a personal best of 68:48, while Kenya’s Agnes Mutune and Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele could also be in with a chance.

Kenya’s Isabellah Ochichi, the 5000m silver medallist from the 2004 Olympic Games will also be bidding to roll back the years and put her best for the distance of 68:38, set back in 2001, under pressure.

Organisers for the IAAF