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Chepkirui seeks Prague sequence - TheEd - 19-02-2014

Joyce Chepkirui has the chance to continue an extraordinary record sequence in the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon on 5 April: the women’s course record in this high quality race has been broken for the last three years in succession with the current best standing at 66:48. But you can expect the Kenyan to break that world-class time on 5 April. Chepkirui, winner of this race in 2012 with 67:03, will face strong opposition in the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. Among them will be the reigning World Cross Country champion, Emily Chebet of Kenya. The men’s field is headed by the Ethiopian Atsedu Tsegay who set the current course record of 58:47 two years ago. The Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Race.

If Joyce Chepkirui arrives in Prague in the kind of form she showed in Berlin last October, spectators in the picturesque heart of the Czech capital can expect something special. Back in the autumn the 25-year-old missed the world record in a 10 km race in Berlin by just 16 seconds in far from ideal weather conditions. “It was too cold for me,” said the Kenyan, who nonetheless ran 30:07 to set a German all-comers’ record and the sixth fastest time ever for 10 km.

Despite her super fast time for 10 km, Joyce Chepkirui concentrates more on the longer distances. This raises hopes that she will be able to regain the course record which she lost two years ago at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. She ran what remains her personal best of 67:03 to break by half a minute the course record set by her fellow Kenyan Lydia Cheromei of 67:33 in 2011. Then came the 2013 edition of the race and another Kenyan, Gladys Cherono, deprived Chepkirui of the course best with her time of 66:48.

Chepkirui’s toughest opponent in Prague could be the reigning World Cross Country champion Emily Chebet, twice a winner of that title in 2011 and 2013. Chebet is also making a return to the event where she made her debut at the distance three years ago and finished sixth in 72:00. Also well capable of having a say in the outcome should be the Ethiopians Worknesh Debele with a best of 67:49 and the 2011 New York Marathon winner Firehiwot Dado, who has run 68:35.

The men’s 2012 champion is also making a return: Atsedu Tsegay ran the sensational time of 58:47 two years ago, indicating that the world record of 58:23 could well be challenged in Prague. This course record made the 22-year-old Tsegay the fourth fastest man at the distance in history and the current Ethiopian record holder into the bargain.

Tsegay is guaranteed strong opposition from Kenya on 5 April including Robert Chemosin, a 59:19 performer, Peter Kirui with a best of 59:39 and certainly not overlooking Philemon Limo. The 28-year-old is a regular in races organised by the Run Czech group, winning the 2011 edition of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon in what remains his best time of 59:30. Last September he also broke the course record over the same distance in the Mattoni Usti nad Labem race with 60:38.