Peres Jepchirchir in half marathon action in Gdynia (© Getty Images)
Five world record-holders in the six championship events are among the entries for the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 on 1 October.
Including Olympic and world champions, a total of 347 athletes – 152 women and 195 men – from 57 teams have been entered to compete in the Latvian capital, where global titles in the road mile, 5km and half marathon are up for grabs together at one championships for the first time.
In the road mile, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon could add her name to that world record list as she makes her road race debut and closes one of the greatest seasons any athlete has ever compiled. The multiple world and Olympic champion has already set world records in the 1500m, mile and 5000m on the track in 2023 and she could add the road mile to her sensational CV in Riga.
But Kipyegon won’t have it all her own way, with Ethiopia’s world 1500m silver medallist Diribe Welteji also in the field, as well as her compatriot Freweyni Hailu and Australia’s Jess Hull, both ranked in the top eight all-time in the mile on the track, and world 3000m steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya.
The men’s entries include USA’s Sam Prakel, who is in line to become the first official world record-holder for the men’s road mile, as he takes on his compatriot Hobbs Kessler, Ethiopia’s Teddese Lemi and Kenya’s Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot and Kyumbe Munguti.
After her cross country victory in Bathurst in February, Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet goes for her second out-of-stadium world title of the year in the 5km, as part of an intriguing field that also features 5km mixed race world record-holder Ejgayehu Taye, Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Peruth Chemutai and Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka, who is entered to double with the mile.
Three of the four fastest men in history clash in the men’s 5km: Ethiopia’s world record-holder Berihu Aregawi, compatriot Yomif Kejelcha and Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir. Aregawi set his record of 12:49 in Barcelona on the final day of 2021 – at the same event where Taye set her record mark of 14:19.
In the half marathon, both Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo are entered to defend their titles against top fields.
Among those challenging Jepchirchir, the Olympic marathon champion who set a women-only world record of 1:05:16 when winning gold at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, will be Kenya’s 2023 world leader Irine Jepchumba Kimais, world cross country silver medallist Tsigie Gebreselama, Germany’s European 5000m champion Konstanze Klosterhalfen and USA’s Sara Hall.
The men’s entries include Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, Kenya’s world 10,000m silver medallist Daniel Simiu Ebenyo and European 5km record-holder Jimmy Gressier of France.
An action-packed day of elite racing begins with the women’s 5km at 11:50am local time and closes with the men’s half marathon at 2:15pm.
Mass races will be held alongside the championships to give recreational runners the chance both to run the championship courses and watch the best in the world compete, as part of this unique global festival of road running.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “This is the first time we have staged an event that celebrates road running in all its guises, from the elite runners, to dedicated recreational runners, to runners who are just starting out, including the kids. With races over the mile, 5km and half marathon, this event showcases the great middle distance and endurance road runners of the world together for the first time, and features the primary entry points for a recreational runner’s journey. The great beauty of running is its accessibility and this event offers something for everyone, including plenty of inspiration for those who want to make running part of their lives.”
Official elite start lists will be published in the week of the event.