Florence Kiplagat breaks the half-marathon world record in Barcelona (© Organisers)
The eDreams Mitja Marato Barcelona, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, has seen half marathon world record performances in the last two years thanks to Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat, with her running the current mark of 1:05:09 in 2015 and also setting world records for 15km (46:14) and 20km (1:01:54) along the way.
Consequently, there are hopes that the 28-year-old Kenyan can make it three-in-a-row on Sunday (12).
However, those ambitions may have to be tempered after she arrived in Barcelona on Thursday morning, from her home in Eldoret, and revealed at a press conference that she had been suffering from flu for several weeks at the end of 2015 which has hampered her build-up for Sunday’s event.
In Kiplagat’s own words, a third consecutive world record looks unlikely but her knowledge of the Barcelona circuit and the employment of her favourite pacemaker should give her a fighting chance of producing another cracking performance.
As was the case on the past two occasions, Kiplagat will be paced by the Spanish runner Marc Roig, who has even shared some training sessions with her in Kenya during in recent weeks.
Kiplagat stiffest opposition looks set to come from Portugal’s Jessica Augusto, an accomplished road runner who took the marathon bronze medal at the 2014 European Championships.
The 2010 European cross country champion will compete in Barcelona eight months after giving birth to her first daughter. It will be her second outing in 2016 following a third place finish at the Portuguese 10km champs three weeks ago in 33:07 Her half marathon best remains at 1:09:08 from back in 2009.
Sweden’s Isabellah Andersson, who has nice memories of Barcelona as she took the 2010 European Championships marathon bronze medal in the Catalan city, Great Britain’s Susan Partridge and Italy’s Veronica Inglese are among the other leading elite women.
Unfortunately, the men’s event has suffered the late withdrawal of Eritrea’s marathon world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, who has suffered a sprain in training.
In his absence, the favourite should be Kenya’s 2011 world championships marathon silver medallist Vincent Kipruto.
The 28-year-old has a marathon best of 2:05:13, albeit from 2010, while his last half marathon appearance came in Lille last September when he finished in a career best of 1:00:19.
The Kenyan contingent also includes Elicky Kipchoge Masse, a 1:01:36 performer and the experience Josephat Kiprono Menjo while Europe is represented by Italy’s 2014 European marathon champion Daniele Meucci.
Despite having a relatively modest career best of 2:11.08, the 30-year-old Italian also finished eighth at the world championships in Beijing last summer and his half marathon best of 1:01:06 could be under threat.
Sweden’s three-time European cross country championships medallist and former steeplechase ace Mustafa Mohamed of Sweden could also be in contention.
A record figure of over 16,511 have signed up to run on Sunday and slight changes to the circuit have been made to provide the runners with wider and more comfortable streets.
Weather forecasters predict quite a windy day, another factor which may mitigate against Kiplagat getting another world record, partially cloudy and a 50 per cent chance of rain with temperatures between 12-14 degrees Celsius at the time of the event.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF