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Kipchoge, Keitany ready to rock at RAK

2015 RAK Half Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge, Mosinet Geremew, Mary Keitany and Priscah Jeptoo ready for the RAK challenge
The question, in the last days before this year’s RAK Half Marathon, after eight years of consistent record-breaking and astonishingly fast elite racing, should perhaps not be “Will it be a good day?”, but “How great a day will it be?”. Last year, eight men broke the one hour mark while nine women went under seventy minutes. And for this year’s race on Friday 13th February, the course is faster still.

The men’s favourite is Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who at just 18, became 5,000m world champion in 2003. Almost 12 years later, he is a formidable road racer, with three wins out of his four marathon starts and a half marathon best of 59:25 which is due for significant revision. In 2014, just his second season at the marathon, he won both Rotterdam and Chicago marathons. For many, the question now is just how much faster can he go?

Against him will be a field as strong as any seen at RAK before, including other top Kenyans such as Jonathan Maiyo (PB 59:02), another of vast experience like Kipchoge, making his RAK debut; Peter Kirui (59:22), able to boast world class times from 10,000m to Marathon, and who won the Prague Half Marathon last year – he too has never raced on something as fast as RAK; Cyprian Kotut (59:12) has the best recent form with that fourth-place time coming in New Delhi last November; and Daniel Wanjiru (59:58) – no relation to the 2007 RAK Champion (and sadly deceased) Sammy Wanjiru – who is only 22 but has shown the capacity to go much faster. For the Ethiopians, Mosinet Geremew is a real danger, third in last November’s New Delhi Half in 59:11. Throw in 2014 Dubai winner Tsegaye Mekonnen (61:39) and Abera Kuma (60:19) who took third in the Berlin Marathon last September in 2:05.56, and it&rsq uo;s clear there’ll be many personal bests as well as an unofficial Kenya v Ethiopia match of titanic proportions.

On the women’s side too, there is an abundance of riches – no more so than in the tiny figure of Mary Keitany, the second fastest half marathon runner in history and outstanding favourite to take her third RAK title. It was in 2011 that this (now) mother of two tore around the RAK circuit to set a new world record of 65:50 retaining her title in 2012 (66:49). She later finished fourth in the London Olympic Marathon when a few weeks pregnant, but after taking 2013 out, returned to racing last year, destroying everyone she met in her three races, most notably winning the Great North Run in 65:39 and then the New York Marathon last November.

Facing Keitany, will be defending RAK champion Priscah Jeptoo, another able to boast astonishing consistency. Second in 2013 (66:11), the same year she won the London and New York Marathons, she won RAK last year in 67:02 by over a minute and will not relinquish her crown without a fight. Also look out for late-entrant Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey, who won RAK 2010 (67:07) and has a stunning array of fast times on the track (former world record at 5,000m) and right up to the marathon. Mix in Ethiopian half marathon record holder Meseret Hailu (66:56), Worknesh Degefa (67:49) and track-racer extraordinaire Wude Ayalew (67:58), and it’s clear that for the women too, there is an unprecedented depth to the clash of the two so-proud East African nations. Let battle commence!
Bib    Elite Men    Nat    PB     Bib    Elite Women    Nat    PB
2    Eliud Kipchoge    KEN    59:25    51    Priscah Jeptoo    KEN    66:11
3    Jonathan Maiyo    KEN    59:02    52    Mary Keitany    KEN    65:50
5    Mosinet Geremew    ETH    59:11    53    Meseret Hailu    ETH    66:56
6    Cyprian Kotut    KEN    59:12    54    Elvan Abeylegesse    TUR    67:07
8    Peter Kirui    KEN    59:22    55    Philes Ongori    KEN    67:38
9    Mike Kigen    KEN    59:58    56    Worknesh Degefa    ETH    67:49
10    Daniel Wanjiru    KEN    59:58    57    Wude Ayalew    ETH    67:58
11    Abera Kuma    ETH    60:19    58    Mamitu Daska    ETH    68:07
12    Edwin Kiptoo    KEN    61:13    59    Cynthia Limo    KEN    68:24
14    Tsegaye Mekonnen    ETH    61:39    61    Josephine Chepkoech    KEN    68:53
17    Tamirat Tola Adera    ETH    61:27
19    Demessew Tsega    KEN    63:22

The RAK Half Marathon is the world’s fastest half marathon and one of the few races in the Middle East to be certified by AIMS (Association of International Marathon and Distance Races). Since its inception in 2007, the RAK Half Marathon has brought the world’s fastest runners and local participants together annually to partake in the region’s leading half marathon.

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