Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor wins the RAK Half Marathon (© Victah Sailor)
Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor heads a strong field of runners for the 14th edition of the Media Maratón de Bogotá, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, that will take place through the streets of the Colombian capital on Sunday (28).
Kamworor is a hugely promising 20-year-old policeman who won the 2011 world junior cross-country title Spain and ran 58:54 on 15 February in Ras Al Khaimah, which is still the best time in the world this year at the distance.
He was also fourth at the Rotterdam Marathon in April with 2:09:12 and the young Kenyan has a personal best over the classic distance of 2:06:12, set in Berlin last September.
Kamworor should be comfortable with the challenging altitude of Bogota, which lies at 2625m, since this summer he has already won the Kenyan Police Championships 10000m title in Nairobi, which is located at 1661m of elevation, in 28:17.0.
His target on Sunday will be the course record of 1:02:24 set by his compatriot Geoffrey Mutai in 2011.
Kenyan runners have dominated the Bogota Half Marathon with eight victories in the previous 13 editions.
Olympic bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang will also add prestige to the Bogota race. Kipsang won last year's London Marathon in 2:04:44, and he has a marathon personal best of 2:03:42 from the 2011 Frankfurt race, the second best performance of all time.
The 31-year-old Kenyan has raced only twice in 2013: taking first place in the New York City Half Marathon in 1:01:02 back in March and then fifth place in this year’s London Marathon with 2:07:47 in April.
Kenya’s Peter Kirui, sixth in the 2011 IAAF World Championships 10,000m and the defending champion in Bogota, clocking 1:02:26 last year and just missing out on Mutai’s course record by two seconds, will also be among the favourites.
Kirui has personal bests of 59:39 at the half marathon, set in New York last year, and 2:06:31 at the marathon, when he finished behind Wilson Kipsang in Frankfurt two years ago.
Ethiopian Tilahun Regassa, winner of the 2013 Rotterdam Marathon with 2:05:38, is another runner with good options of coming home first. The 23-year-old has also run under the hour for the half marathon, albeit in 2010 when he set his best of 59:19 in Abu Dhabi.
Also expected to feature in the race are the current South African half marathon champion Lucky Mohale and Eritrea’s 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon ninth-place finisher Tewelde Estifanos.
Jeptoo and Ochichi the main attractions in the women’s race
The women’s field in the Bogota Half Marathon is deeper and stronger than ever before, with Olympic silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo the fastest in the field with 1:06:11 this year, and the likely favorite after her 2:20:14 personal best to win at the 2013 London Marathon.
However, Jeptoo could be closely challenged by a group of four women who have run under 69 minutes in their half marathon careers, including the Kenyan trio of Isabella Ochichi, the 2013 Gothenburg Half Marathon champion; Flomena Chepchirchir, the 2012 Lille Half Marathon champion, and Helah Kiprop, the 2013 Berlin Half Marathon champion, as well as Ethiopia’s Amane Gobena who has a best of 1:08:16.
The 33-year-old Ochichi, the 2004 Olympic 5000m silver medalist, has reappeared this season after not competing internationally since 2006, the year when she won the 5000m at the Commonwealth Games, after a long hiatus from the sport while she raised her family.
The experienced Kenyan is coming off a fifth place over 10,000m at their national championships and impressed when she ran a half marathon season’s best of 1:09:21 for third place in the Prague Half Marathon in April.
Chepchirchir, 31, won the Seoul Marathon with 2:25:43 in March and has a half marathon personal best of 1:08:06 from Lille last year.
The women’s course record has been untouched since Kenya’s Susan Chepkemei ran 1:10:29 in 2003 but Jeptoo might have a chance of improving on it in her current form. All of the Kenyan women will be battling to take the number of winners from their country into double figures, with their compatriots having won the women’s race in nine of the previous 13 editions.
The Bogota Half Marathon has attracted more than 15,000 starters and more than 30,000 runners will also compete in the accompanying 10km.
The leading contenders to be the top local finishers are expected to be Carolina Tabares, fresh from wins over 5000m and 10,000m at the Colombian national championships and a gold medal in the shorter event in the recent South American Championships, and 2013 South American 10,000m bronze medallist William Naranjo.
Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF