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Kenyan marathoners Kipchoge, Keitany eye RAK Half Marathon

By IAAF | February 10th 2015
Elite runners, including Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge, left, and Rita Jeptoo, center, depart from the starting line during the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Chicago. Chicago's 37th annual race included a field of 108 elite men, women and wheelchair athletes. There were also 45,000 amateur runners registered and more than 1 million people were expected to watch along the way. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Kenyan marathoners Eliud Kipchoge, Mary Keitany and Priscah Jeptoo headline the ninth edition of the RAK Half Marathon which will be staged on an even faster course on Friday.

Last year, eight men broke the one hour-mark while nine women ducked under 70 minutes and, for this year’s race, the course has been modified so to make it even faster.

Kipchoge, at just 18, took the IAAF World Championships 5,000m title in 2003 when he beat Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele - two of the all-time greats on the track - for the gold medal in Paris.

Almost 12 later, Kipchoge has proved himself to be a ferocious competitor on the roads with three wins out of his four marathon starts, and a half marathon best of 59:25. In 2014, just his second season focussing on the classic distance, he won both the Rotterdam and Chicago Marathons.

Against him will be a field as strong as any seen in Ras Al Khaimah before.

He will face six more runners with bests under 60 minutes, including fellow Kenyans Jonathan Maiyo (59:02), Cyprian Kotut (59:12) and Peter Kirui (59:22).

The Ethiopian contingent includes Mosinet Geremew (59:11) and the holder of the world junior marathon best Tsegaye Mekonnen.

Mekonnen’s half marathon best stands at 1:02:41, although he passed through halfway in 1:01:39 en-route his time of 2:04:32 in the Dubai Marathon last year.

The RAK Half Marathon men’s course record is 58:52 set by Kenya’s Patrick Makau in 2009.

On the women’s side, there is an equal abundance of talent, including Keitany, the second fastest half marathon runner in history and the favourite to take her third RAK title.

In 2011, Keitany set what was then a world record of 1:05:50 - which remains the course record - before returning 12 months later to finish first again in 1:06:49.

Facing Keitany will be her compatriot and RAK defending champion Priscah Jeptoo, who is on the comeback from a leg injury which forced her to miss the London and New York marathons last year.

Five other runners in the elite women’s field boast bests under the 68 minute-mark: Meseret Hailu (66:56), Elvan Abeylegesse (67:07), Philes Ongori (67:38), Worknesh Degefa (67:49) and Wude Ayalew (67:58).  — IAAF


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