Daniel Wanjiru winning at the 2015 Prague Half Marathon (© Organisers)
Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru and Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa will return to the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon to defend their crowns on Saturday 2 April, the organisers of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race announced on Monday (14).
However, both runners will face a host of strong opponents.
The men’s race will feature five athletes who have broken the one-hour barrier and another 11 who have run under 1:01:00. On the women’s side, the field includes six runners with a personal best under 1:10:00.
Wanjiru returns to Prague after his surprising victory in 2015, when he clocked 59:51 to defeat a host of his better known compatriots.
Fellow Kenyans Peter Kirui, the 2014 Birell Grand Prix 10-K champion, and Geoffrey Ronoh, the 2014 Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon winner will line up against Wanjiru in the Czech capital as will Abraham Cheroben, the fastest half marathoner in the world in 2015.
Cheroben’s best of 58:48, set in Valencia in 2014, is only one second off the race record of 58:47 set by Ethiopia’s Atsedu Tsegay in 2012.
Like Wanjiru, Degefa was a revelation in overcoming a classy field to win in Prague last year, winning by over a minute in 1:07:14.
The 25-year-old appears to be in fine form currently, judging by her victory on Sunday in the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon with personal best of 1:07:08.
Another potential challenger for the podium is Sara Moreira, of Portugal, who last year clocked a personal best of 69:18 in the Lisbon Half Marathon and then finished second in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon in a best time of 2:24:49, before going on to finish fourth in the New York City Marathon in difficult conditions.
Other well-known names in the women’s race include Susan Partridge, of Great Britain, Spain’s Alessandra Aguilar and Japan’s Misato Horie.
Czech fans will also have strong athletes to cheer for in both the men’s and women’s races.
Jan Kreisinger is the best of the Czech men with a best of 1:03:38 while in the women’s race, 2014 European Championships 20km race walk bronze medallist Anezka Drahotova is also a very accomplished runner and looking for a top 10 place.
The Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon marks the start of the RunCzech Running League 2016, which features a total of seven high-quality races throughout the Czech Republic.
For the first time, all the RunCzech Running League races will be IAAF Gold Label Road Races, the highest award given to long distance races by the sport’s global governing body.
With three Gold Labels, Prague is the most decorated city in road racing, and with seven Gold Labels, the Czech Republic has more than any country in the world.
Organisers for the IAAF
Elite fields for the 2016 Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon (with personal bests)
Abraham Cheroben (KEN) 58:48
Peter Kirui (KEN) 59:22
Geoffrey Ronoh (KEN) 59:45
Daniel Chebii (KEN) 59:49
Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 59:51
Abraham Kipyatich (KEN) 1:00:03
James Rungaru (KEN) 1:00:12
Adugna Takele (ETH) 1:00:15
Goitom Kifle (ERI) 1:00:20
Josphat Kiptis (KEN) 1:00:21
Nobert Kigen (KEN) 1:00:32
Tebalu Zawude (ETH) 1:00:33
Felix Kandie (KEN) 1:00:42
Benard Bett (KEN) 1:00:43
Barselius Kipyego (KEN) 1:00:46
Jan Kreisinger (CZE) 1:03:38
Jiří Homoláč (CZE) 1:05:41
Milan Kocourek (CZE) 1:05:47
Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 1:07:08
Isabella Ochichi (KEN) 1:08:38
Sara Moreira (POR) 1:09:18
Violah Jepchumba (KEN) 1:09:29
Margaret Agai (KEN) 1:09:57
Afera Godfay (ETH) 1:09:51
Misato Horie (JPN) 1:10:26
Susan Partridge (GBR) 1:10:32
Risper Chebet (KEN) 1:10:43
Alessandra Aguilar (ESP) 1:10:56
Lucy Karimi (KEN) 1:11:23
Katerina Kowalska (POL) 1:11:27
Anežka Drahotová (CZE) 1:14:25