Kosgei, Kiptum highlight Sunday's Lisbon 21km race

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei (right) and Ruth Chepngetich during the 2020 London Marathon, in London. [File]

Two former fastest road racers in the world will on Sunday afternoon highlighting the Lisbon half marathon in Portugal.

Former women’s marathon World Record holder Brigid Kosgei will be chasing glory as gears up for the 2024 London Marathon next month.

And in the men’s half marathon, Abraham Kiptum is returning to reclaim the best mark, which was nullified in 2019.

Last December, just a month and 11 days after a fourth place at the New York City Marathon showdown, Kosgei pulled a huge surprise, easily storming to victory at the 2023 Abu Dhabi 42km contest.

After the Lisbon half marathon showdown, Kosgei will be tuning her focus on a cat-fight in London where she will be facing bigwigs including Joyciline Jepkosgei and Olympic champion Peres Chepchirchir, with reigning world record holder Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia in the mix.

"I want to say thanks to the race organizers. I'm really happy to be here again. I wanted to run this race because I want to test my speed for the London Marathon in April. I come here to see how my body responds,” Kosgei, 30, said in Lisbon on Friday.

The double London marathon winner went on: “I'm feeling good, I'm happy, I did a good preparation. The course is very fast and I hope to have a good race. If the weather is good, I will try to break my personal best in the half marathon.”

Kosgei will be running alongside compatriots Pauline Esikon Betty Kibet and Vivian Melly as well as Ethiopians Bosena Mutalie and Tigist Menigstu among others.

Kiptum, who is making a comeback after missing in action for over years because of an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) violation, will be out to prove a point in the Portuguese race.

He won two half marathons – Madrid and Casablanca in 2016 and the 2018 Daegu Marathon.

Bravin Kiptoo, the brother of former world 10,000m Under-20 champion Rhonex Kipruto and Brian Kwemoi are among Kenyan guns to watch in the Lisbon competition.

American Leonard Korir, who placed third in last month's US Olympic Marathon Trials will be vying for a top spot in the Lisbon 21km race.

In that race, Korir achieved the needed spot in the podium, but not the time to guarantee the place in Paris. “That's why he chose Lisbon to race, to try to run a fast time, and maybe to break the American record (59:43),” organisers said in a statement.

"I heard so many good things about the race, I heard that it's super-fast. There were some guys that ran fast here, like Jacob Kiplimo. I wanted to run something faster, and I told myself 'let me try to go to Lisbon.'I just want to see if I can run a quick time, to see how my body feels before running a marathon in the near future," said the 37 year-old American.

Contestants will be eying the race’s €150,000 (Sh21.9 million) bonus for new world records shattered.

Ugandan star Jacob Kiplimo set the 57:31 half marathon record in 2021 while the women’s 21km fastest time of 1:02:54, was established by Letesenbet Gidey in Valencia that year.

Kiplimo had taken one second off the previous world record set by  Kibiwott Kandie in Valencia in 2020.

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