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Kenya and Ethiopia shift their battle field to Poland

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | October 15th 2020
Athletics - New York City Marathon - New York, United States - November 3, 2019. Kenya's Joyciline Jepkosgei crosses the line to win the women's elite race. [REUTERS/Brendan McDermid]

On Saturday, the world’s leading women half marathoners will be battling for honours at the world championship in Gdynia, Poland.

Kenya’s top half marathoners will be on a mission to dethrone world record holder in the distance, Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia.

A jaw-dropping race was expected in the men’s category, but with the withdrawal of world half marathon record holder, who is also the defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor, focus will now shift to the star-studded women’s field.

Leading the Kenyan assault will be half marathon women-only world record holder Peres Jepchirchir and former half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei.

Fresh from setting new times in Prague last month, Jepchirchir is seeking to end the disrupted athletics season on a high.

The 26-year-old timed 1:05:34, chopping 37 seconds off the time set by Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta in 2018 in the race that featured only female runners.

She won gold at the World Half Marathon Championships in 2016 and is seeking to triumph once more.

Jepkosgei is seeking to extend her 2019 winning streaks after clinching victories at the New York City half and full marathon.

In 2017, she broke the world half marathon record in Praguein in a time of 64:51, lowering Peres Jepchirichir’s previous record by 14 seconds.

Jepkosgei said she is prepared to face the reigning world half marathon record holder in the race.

“I hope to do my best in Poland. It has been a difficult season, but I still managed to follow my training programme,” she said.

Chicago Marathon - Chicago, Illinois, United States - October 13, 2019. Ethiopia's Ababel Yeshaneh in action before finishing second in the women's marathon. [REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo]

The star-studded women’s field also has Dorcas Kimeli, who finished third at the Barcelona half marathon in February.

Brilliant Kipkoech, who stole the show at the ONE RUN half marathon in South Africa last year and Rosemary Wanjiru, who made her international debut at the 2015 African Games will be taking part in the race.

Ethiopia’s Yeshaneh smashed Jepkosgei’s world record at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February, clocking 1:04:31 at the World Athletics Gold Label road race.

Yeshaneh outclassed world record-holder Brigid Kosgei, who was using the race to gauge her strength ahead of the rescheduled London marathon, which she won last week.

A squad of five Kenyan men including Kibiwott Kandie will be seeking to bring the title to Kenya.

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