Previews14 Sep 2018

Strong fields targeting fast times at Copenhagen Half Marathon


Abraham Cheroben winning the Copenhagen Half Marathon (© Organisers)

Strong fields in both the men's and women's races will be targeting fast times at the Copenhagen Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (16).

The men's field includes 14 runners with sub-one hour credentials, among them Abraham Cheroben of Bahrain and Jorum Okombo of Kenya, last year's winner and runner-up.

Cheroben clocked 58:40 here one year ago to claim the No. 3 spot on the all-time list. Okombo clocked 58:48, elevating him into a tie for the No. 8 spot all-time. Both have indicated that they've returned to better those personal bests.

They'll face Ethiopia's Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, at 59:00 this year's third fastest over the distance. Also notable is the inclusion of another Ethiopian, 3000 and 5000m specialist Yomif Kejelcha, who arrives on the heals of his impressive 5000m run in the Diamond League final in Brussels where he clocked 12.46.79 to become the seventh fastest ever over that distance on the track.

Melly on a world record assault

The women's field is extremely competitive boasting five runners with sub-1:08 lifetime bests. The standout however is Kenyan Joan Melly, last year’s runner up. This season she's proven herself to be one of the world’s best half marathon runners, improving her personal best to an impressive 1:05:04 in Prague last April, 14 seconds shy of the world record set by Joycilene Jepkosgei at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March. She's announced that the world record will be her target on Sunday.

Her toughest challenge should come from Kenyans Ruth Chepngetich and Mary Wacera and Ababel Yeshaneh Brihane of Ethiopia, who all arrive armed with sub-1:06:30 personal bests. Chepngetich brings experience, too, with half marathon victories in Milan, Istanbul and Paris to her credit. Earlier this year, she was second at the Paris Marathon.

Besides the big favourites, it will also be interesting see how Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan fares. In the track in 2018 she raced to the European 5000m title and victory in the Continental Cup 3000m last weekend with a world-leading 8:27.50.

Bob Ramsak and organisers for the IAAF