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Tadese seeks Prague World Record

Prague Half 2013

Zersenay Tadese intends to attack his own world record in the Hervis Prague Half Marathon on Saturday. The 31 year-old Eritrean had established the current best of 58:23 minutes in Lisbon three years ago.

Tadese is the fastest man in the field but he is certainly not the only challenger for the title. Kenya’s Philemon Limo is optimistic of beating the five time World Half Marathon Champion, who also has a world cross country title under his belt. As if extra incentive were needed, the organisers of the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, have offered a 100,000 Euro world record bonus.

This is the second occasion that organisers of the biggest and best quality Czech half marathon have offered a six figure world record bonus. “Last year no-one believed that a world record could be possible in Prague. But then we got a winning time of 58:47 minutes despite some wind, which remained the fastest in the world in 2012. Now people do believe that even a world record is possible in Prague,” explained Jana Moberly, the elite athletes coordinator. Zersenay Tadese is the greatest athlete ever to be on the start line of the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, which stages its 15th edition on Saturday.

“I am well prepared for this race,” said Zersenay Tadese during today’s press conference. The world record holder completed the first part of his preparations in Madrid where he has a second home. For the past five weeks he has been training at high altitude in Asmara, the Eritrean capital. “I will try to break the world record. But the weather could be decisive,” said Zersenay Tadese. Current forecast suggest a temperature of around five degrees Celcius which may be a fraction too cool for a very fast race.

One of Tadese’s toughest challengers should be Philemon Limo, who knows Prague’s streets well. He had established a course record and personal best of 59:30 minutes two years ago. “I am inspired to run against the world record holder. But I don’t fear him. I want to break my personal best on Saturday,” said 27 year-old Philemon Limo and added: “Everything is possible in Prague.” Limo said he had trained very hard so that it could be possible for him to run under 59 minutes. “Once in a week we do a training session back in Kenya with around 400 athletes. We call it ,The End of the Road’ because it leads to end of the tarmac. It lasts about 70 minutes, gets faster and faster and includes great athletes like Wilson Kipsang and Sammy Kitwara. When you are among the leaders there you will win your next big race,” explained Philemon Limo. Asked about his position in ,The End of the Road’ he answered: “I was in the leading group – so that makes me optimistic that I can beat Tadese.”

Three more athletes will be involved on Saturday with personal bests of sub 60 minutes: Pius Maiyo (59:25), Daniel Chebii (59:49/both Kenya) and Yonas Kifle (59:30/Eritrea). Prague will also mark the debut of Teklemariam Medhin, a training partner of Tadese. The Eritrean has shown great form recently, taking the bronze medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz last month.

The women’s race will see the return of Gladys Cherono, who aims to further improve. In 2012 she had established her personal best of 68:18 minutes with a third place finish in the Czech capital. “I want to run as fast or better as last year if the weather will not be too cold,” said the 29 year-old Kenyan. As last year, when she took the long distance double at the African Championships (5,000 and 10,000 m), Gladys Cherono plans to do a track season in the summer. “I will try to qualify at 10,000 metres for the World Championships in Moscow,” she said.

Gladys Cherono is the second fastest in the field of the Hervis Prague Half Marathon behind Worknesh Degefa. The Ethiopian has a PB of 67:49, which she ran in the Rome Ostia race last month. In a close finish Worknesh Degefa took third and was only ten seconds behind the winner.

There is a third runner in the race on Saturday who boasts a sub 69 minutes lifetime best: Isabella Ochichi has chosen Prague for her international comeback. Her PB of 68:38 dates back twelve years and the Kenyan has not raced at an international level since 2006. “Isabella Ochichi is a very professional athlete, so this is a serious comeback,” said Zane Branson, the manager of the Olympic 5,000 m silver medallist from 2004. The 33 year-old has been training for Prague with the group of world marathon record holder Patrick Makau in Ngong.

A record number of 12,500 runners have entered the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, which marks the start of the Run Czech Series 2013. Six more international road races are to follow. The next event will be the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on 12th May.

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