Nicholas Kemboi wins at the 2013 Volkswagen Prague Marathon (© Volkswagen Prague Marathon)
The defending champion and race record holder are among a contingent of strong rivals for Moses Mosop when the Kenyan runs the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on 11 May, after the IAAF Gold Label Road Race organisers announced the rest of their elite fields on Wednesday (23).
The men’s field has impressive strength in depth with eight men who have run under 2:08 and a further six with faster than 2:10 to their credit.
Kenya’s race record holder Eliud Kiptanui caused a sensation in winning the 2010 race with 2:05:39.
The Kenyan hasn’t been able to get close to that kind of time in his recent marathons but others on the start list might well have a chance of doing so.
Among them is last year’s winner Nicholas Kemboi, who ran 2:08:51 for victory in very warm conditions and who hasn’t run a marathon since. The Qatari has a best of 2:08:01.
Another runner who might be expected to make a major advance is Patrick Terer. The Kenyan's personal best is 2:08:51 and he finished third last year in 2:10:10 but that was after problems with a visa meant he only arrived at short notice in Prague.
“I’ll come back and win,” Terer promised after the race 12 months ago.
Mosop is the second fastest marathoner of all time with his 2:03:06, run in Boston in 2011 although that course does not confirm to record regulations. Now recovered from a knee injury, he hopes to run between 2:06 and 2:07 in Prague.
Apart from Mosop and Kiptanui, there are another four athletes who have already run under 2:07. The Ethiopian pair of Dadi Yami (2:05:41) and Deresa Chimsa (2:05:42) both ran their personal bests in Dubai in 2012, and there are the Kenyan pair Nicholas Manza (2:06:34) and Nicholas Kipkemboi (2:06:35).
“I think this is an elite field fit to celebrate the race’s 20th anniversary. We can look forward to a great race and hope to have times of around 2:06 in the men’s race. If the weather is good, the race record of Eliud Kiptanui might even be in danger,” said Jana Moberly, the elite field co-ordinator for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.
Dado the women's favourite
Two women take centre stage in the women’s field: Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado and Kenya’s Flomena Chepchirchir.
Dado enjoyed the biggest success of her career so far when she won the New York Marathon in 2011, setting what remains her personal best of 2:23:15.
Beating her personal best in Prague is the objective for the woman who has also won the Rome Marathon for three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011.
She showed good form in January this year, finishing third in the Dubai Marathon. Dado also ran the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon at the beginning of April, using the opportunity to become more familiar with conditions in the Czech capital along the way to finishing ninth in 1:11:15.
“Firehiwot Dado is in the form to run a personal best,” added Moberly.
Chepchirchir has been producing strong consistent performances under 2:25 in recent years although she dropped out of the Boston Marathon at 25km on Monday.
If Boston turned out not to be her day, she is keen to show it was only a temporary setback when she runs in Prague, where she finished second two years ago. She ran her best of 2:23:00 when finishing second in Frankfurt last year.
Apart from the two favourites in Dado and Chepchirchir, another eight women have personal bests under 2:30.
Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF
Leading men’s contenders (including personal bests):
Moses Mosop KEN 2:03:06
Eliud Kiptanui KEN 2:05:39
Dadi Yami ETH 2:05:41
Deresa Chimsa ETH 2:05:42
Nicholas Manza KEN 2:06:34
Nicholas Kipkemboi KEN 2:06:35
Yared Asmerom ERI 2:07:27
Teferi Kebede ETH 2:07:32
Nicholas Kemboi QAT 2:08:01
Abere Kassw ETH 2:08:15
Dereje Tadesse ETH 2:08:46
Patrick Terer KEN 2:08:52
Kennedy Kwemoi Naibei KEN 2:09:54
Asmare Workneh ETH 2:09:56
Leading women’s contenders:
Flomena Chepchirchir KEN 2:23:00
Firehiwot Dado ETH 2:23:15
Aberu Mekuria ETH 2:26:07
Yeshimebet Tadesse ETH 2:26:17
Bethelhem Moges ETH 2:26:42
Yuliya Ruban UKR 2:27:00
Eunice Kales KEN 2:27:19
Fantu Eticha ETH 2:27:36
Beatrice Jepkemboi KEN 2:27:41
Konjit Tilahun ETH 2:28:11