Tadesse Tola, Stanley Biwott and Tsegaye Mekonnen ahead of the Bogota Half Marathon (© Victah Sailer / organisers)
Kenya’s Stanley Biwott and Ethiopia’s Berhane Dibaba are set to be the headline acts on Sunday (26) at the Bogota International Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Biwott, a fourth-place finisher at this year’s London Marathon, stands out in a men’s field of considerable depth. The 29-year-old holds a personal best of 58:56, which was run at the RAK Half Marathon in United Arab Emirates in 2013.
Earlier this year, he took victory at the City Pier Half Marathon in the Hague, running 59:20 in windy conditions, which still tops the world list in 2015. That run gives him top billing in Sunday’s race, which will be held at a challenging altitude of 2600m and begins in Bogota’s famous Bolivar Square.
Biwott, though, is unlikely to have it all his own way on the streets of the Colombian capital with Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Mekonnen, among several other established half-marathon runners, in opposition.
Mekonnen enjoyed a breakout year in 2014, taking victory at the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:32 and the 20-year-old’s personal best of 1:01:05 – dating back to the RAK Half Marathon in March – considerably underestimates his ability.
Kenya’s Kimutai Kiplimo is another accomplished performer, having finished second at the Great North Run in 2009 in 59:44, which remains his personal best.
Fellow Kenyan Peter Kirui is also likely to put up a strong showing. The 27-year-old won this race in 2012 and last year he was victorious at the Prague Half Marathon in a personal best of 59:22.
Other Kenyans likely to feature include Charles Ndirangu and Sylas Kimutai Chebogel. Ndirangu is based in Japan and has set his personal best of 1:00:18 at the Corporate Challenge Half Marathon in Yamaguchi earlier this year.
Chebogel, meanwhile, is one second quicker on personal bests, his fastest time of 1:00:17 coming at the Berlin Half Marathon last year, where he finished fourth.
The US charge will be led by Jeff Eggleston, who has a best of 1:02:41 and will use the race as a warm-up ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month, where he has been picked to run the marathon.
The European challenge is led by France’s El Hassane Ben Lkhainouch, whose best time of 1:01:31 was run at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen last year.
Eritrea’s Samsom Gebreyohannes is another strong candidate. The 23-year-old has a best of 1:00:13, which he ran to finish eighth at the World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen last year.
In the women’s race, Berhane Dibaba stands out as the class of the field. The 21-year-old has risen up the world marathon ranks at impressive speed over the past two years, finishing second in Tokyo last year in a personal best of 2:22:30 before returning to win the same race this year, her first title in a Marathon Major.
Dibaba’s best half marathon is 1:09:34, run in San Diego last year, and though she is unlikely to rewrite that in the thin air of Bogota, she is likely to take some stopping on Sunday.
However in Kenya’s Sharon Cherop, Dibaba will have a formidable opponent. The 31-year-old has a best of 1:07:08 at the half marathon, and is also an accomplished marathon runner. Cherop finished second at the Berlin Marathon in 2013, running 2:22:28, and this year finished fifth in Boston.
Three places behind her that day was Shure Demise of Ethiopia, who is also competing on Sunday. The 19-year-old set a world junior best of 2:20:59 when finishing fourth at the Dubai Marathon earlier this year and holds a best of 1:08:53 for the half marathon.
Another Ethiopian worthy of respect is Meseret Mengistu, who won the Paris Marathon title in April in a personal best of 2:23:26. The 25-year-old finished 10th at the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, running a personal best of 1:09:31.
Amana Gobena finished runner-up to Mengistu in Paris earlier this year in 2:23:30 and she will once again line up beside her fellow Ethiopian this weekend. Gobena won the LA Marathon and Istanbul Marathon last year, and has a half marathon best of 1:08:16.
Others of note include Ethiopia’s Guteni Shone, who has a best of 1:08:31 and won the Seoul Marathon this year, and Kenya’s Mirriam Wangari, who won the Lima Marathon this year and has a half marathon best of 1:10:27.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF