Ababel Yeshaneh wins the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon (© Giancarlo Colombo / organisers)
The strength of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon continues in 2022, with respective current and former world record-holders Jacob Kiplimo and Ababel Yeshaneh among those featuring in another set of deep fields announced for the World Athletics Elite Label road race on Saturday (19).
The pandemic prevented the event from taking place in 2021 but it returns this weekend with top clashes and fast times on the cards.
Yeshaneh broke the world record the last time the race was held, clocking 1:04:31 to finish clear ahead of marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei, who was also inside the previous women’s mixed-race record. Since then, the mark has been taken to 1:02:52 by Letesenbet Gidey in Valencia.
Among those joining Ethiopia’s Yeshaneh in targeting fast times in Ras Al Khaimah are her compatriot Genzebe Dibaba, plus Kenya’s Hellen Obiri and Sheila Chepkirui.
After breaking the world record in Ras Al Khaimah in 2020, Yeshaneh went on to finish fifth in that year’s World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia and last November she placed third in the New York City Marathon. World 1500m record-holder Dibaba, meanwhile, returns to half marathon action for the first time since December 2020, when she won in Valencia in 1:05:18 for the fastest ever women’s debut at the distance.
Two-time world 5000m champion Obiri also turns her attention back to the roads following another successful season on the track last year. After setting a half marathon PB of 1:04:51 in Istanbul in April, the two-time Olympic silver medallist went on to win the Great North Run half marathon in September and started her 2022 with a win at the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Silver event in Northern Ireland in January.
With a PB of 1:04:54, Chepkirui joins them and will be looking to build on her third-place finishes in the Valencia and Bahrain half marathons last year. Bahrain’s Olympic marathon seventh-place finisher Eunice Chumba and Kenya’s Daisy Cherotich, Judith Jeptum and Pauline Esikon line up alongside them, as does Britain’s Eilish McColgan, who is back in action following her 14:48 5km in Dubai last weekend.
In the men’s race, Uganda’s Kiplimo races for the first time since setting his world record of 57:31 in Lisbon in November. That performance came towards the end of a year in which he also finished third in the 10,000m and fifth in the 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics.
This will be the world half marathon champion’s first time racing in Ras Al Khaimah, with the lead pacemakers set to go through 10km in 27:10. Kiplimo will form part of a field featuring 18 men to have dipped under an hour for the distance and nine to have gone sub-59:00, including Kenya’s 2021 Valencia Half Marathon winner Abel Kipchumba and Alexander Mutiso, who finished second in Ras Al Khaimah in 2020 and has a PB of 57:59.
Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn, who claimed bronze at the World Half Marathon Championships behind winner Kiplimo in 2020, is another athlete returning to Ras Al Khaimah. Also featuring are Kenya’s Philemon Kiplimo, Daniel Kibet, Kennedy Kimutai, Kelvin Kiptum, Mathew Kimeli and Rodgers Kwemoi, plus Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura, Dawit Wolde and Asefa Mengstu.
Germany’s Amanal Petros, who holds the national record of 1:00:09, is said to be targeting the European record of 59:13 set by Switzerland’s Julien Wanders in Ras Al Khaimah in 2019.
The women’s and men’s races will be run at the same time, starting at 7am local time.