Visiline Jepkesho crosses the line to win the 2016 Paris Marathon (© AFP/Getty Images)
Organisers of the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris have assembled competitive fields for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (9).
Stephen Chebogut, one of six athletes on the start line with a sub-2:07 PB, owns the fastest time of the field with his 2:05:52 clocking to win the 2015 Eindhoven Marathon. The 32 year-old Kenyan is familiar with the roads in the French capital, having finished sixth at the 2011 Paris Marathon in 2:08:02. He also clocked a season’s best of 1:01:25 for the half marathon in Paris last year.
Compatriots Mark Kiptoo and Gilbert Koech are expected to be among his main rivals. Kiptoo, who was the winner of the 2014 Frankfurt Marathon, finished just eight seconds adrift of Chebogut in Eindhoven in 2015 when he clocked his PB of 2:06:00. The 40-year-old’s last marathon was an 11th-place finish in 2:10:24 in Berlin last September.
Koech’s personal best of 2:06:18 was set on his debut at the distance in Amsterdam in 2009, but since then he has won the 2014 Dusseldorf Marathon in 2:08:07 and was runner-up in Valencia last year in 2:08:04.
Ethiopia’s Abayneh Ayele could come up trumps, as he has one of the fastest half marathon PBs of the field. The 30-year-old placed fourth at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Cardiff 2016, running 59:59 in difficult conditions just two months after finishing sixth at the Dubai Marathon in a PB of 2:06:45.
Kenya’s Samuel Kosgei, Micah Kogo and Paul Lonyangata also cannot be discounted. Kosgei finished seventh in Dubai last year with a best of 2:06:53, 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Kogo finished fourth in Paris last year, and Lonyangata won the 2015 Shanghai Marathon with a PB of 2:07:14.
Frenchmen Hassan Chahdi, Benjamin Malaty, Jean-Damascene Habarurema and Yohan Durand will be looking to achieve the 2:12:00 qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships London 2017. Chahdi will be aiming to clock a sub-2:10 time, but Malaty’s best of 2:12:00 set in 2013 is the fastest PB of the French entrants.
Jepkesho aims to retain her title
There should also be a fierce battle in the women’s race. Following her victory in 2016 and her third-place finish in 2015 with a PB of 2:24:44, Kenyan Olympian Visiline Jepkesho will attempt to make it on to the podium in Paris for a third consecutive year.
Compatriot Filomena Cheyech also knows the Paris Marathon as she won the 2014 edition in a best of 2:22:44. The Commonwealth champion’s most recent marathon was a 2:23:18 victory in Saitama last November.
Ethiopia’s Yebrqual Melese has already set a PB this year, placing third in Dubai in January in 2:23:13. The 27-year-old is also accustomed to French roads as she finished second in the French capital in 2014. With four sub-2:24 performances to her name and victories in Houston and Prague plus a second-place finish in Chicago, she is the most consistent performer in the field.
The Kenyan pair of Agnes Barsosio and Purity Rionoripo, with respective PBs of 2:24:03 and 2:24:47, could also have a role to play.
The men’s course record of 2:05:03 is held by Kenenisa Bekele while the women’s one is owned by Feyse Tadesse, who ran 2:21:06 in 2013. Even if the cool but not too hot temperatures and minimal wind expected for Sunday’s race will provide perfect conditions to run fast, it would be tough to improve these two marks.
About 50,000 runners coming from more than 140 countries will take part at the Paris Marathon.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF