Aziz Lahbabi wins the 2014 Rome-Ostia Half Marathon (© Organisers)
Morocco’s Aziz Lahbabi and Uganda’s Geoffrey Kusuro will make their return to the 43rd edition of the Roma Ostia Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Race, on Sunday (12).
The Roma Ostia has produced fast times in recent years and this Sunday’s race is set to continue that tradition. Last year the race grabbed headlines when Kenyan Solomon Kirwa Yego set the course record with a jaw-dropping 58:44 performance, the fourth fastest time in history.
Lahbabi will be bidding to win the Roma Ostia for the second time, three years after clocking an impressive lifetime best of 59:25. Lahbabi has also clocked a lifetime best of 13:04.06 in the 5000m on the track.
Kusuro finished third in the Italian capital in 2015 with his personal best of 59:43.
The fastest runner in the men’s field is Ethiopian Guye Adola, who won the bronze medal at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen with 59:21 and has notable personal bests of 27:09.78 in the 10,000m from Eugene in 2014 and 59:09 over the half marathon distance from New Dehli in 2014.
Another Kenyan runner, who will make his return to the Roma Ostia is Peter Kwemoi Ndorobo, who finished eighth in 2015 clocking 1:01:38 and fourth in 2016 with 1:00:13.
Tanui vs Mergia in women’s race
Kenyan Angela Tanui will be looking to improve her second place finish from last year’s edition when she set clocked a 1:07:16 personal best, finishing eight seconds behind winner Debele Degefa of Ethiopia.
Tanui will face Ethiopian Aselech Mergia, who finished runner-up in the 2015 New York City Marathon and won the bronze medal in the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin. Mergia set her half marathon personal best with 1:07:21 in 2011 and clocked the fastest time of her career in the marathon with 2:19:31 in Dubai in 2015.
Another leading contender for a top-three finish is Kenyan Gladys Cherono, who won the Berlin Marathon in 2015 with her career best of 2:19:25. She also has 1:06:07 half marathon credentials from Ras Al Khaimah in 2016.
Kenya will be also represented by Rebecca Kangogo Chesire, who won the Stramilano Half Marathon in 2015 with her personal best of 1:08:21, and the Singapore Marathon in 2016.
Italian hopes will be carried by Rosaria Console, who ran for the first time at the Roma Ostia in 2003 when she finished second. Console has contested the race seven times in her career and won in 2005 with 1:09:34.
The popular Roma Ostia Half Marathon race has attracted no less than 12253 runners.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF