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TCS Amsterdam Marathon 2015 pre-race

Amsterdam Marathon

On Sunday 18th of October the 40th Amsterdam Marathon will take place.  Over 16,000 people will toe the starting line on the main distance, and hopefully the finish line too. A select few of those runners will contend for the win or for a fiercely wanted Olympic qualifying time.

Amsterdam Marathon – International elites: a race to the last kilometer?

What we want, says race director Cees Pronk, is a marathon that is a true race untill the finish. The winner should emerge in the last kilometers. For the men, that win might go to Wilson “Mr. Amsterdam” Chebet, the three time winner of Amsterdam (2011, 2012, 2013). Last year, he did not feel well and stepped out of the race, but this year he’s fit and eager to win again. However fellow Kenian Bernard “Junior” Kipyego and winner of the 2014 edition will also go for another win in Amsterdam. With a PR of 2:06:22, set in Amsterdam last year, he’s not the fastest atlete on paper. However, he feels he’s able to run at least a 2:05 now, planning to push the pace after 30km instead of 35km, as he did last year. He’s been training and keeping up with the likes of Eliud Kipchoge and he’s confident he will have a good race. The atlete who is the fastest on paper is also the youngest elite athlete: Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Mekonnen stunned the world last year by winning the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:32, while only being 18 years old! Completing the list of fastest men are Abel Kirui, Markos Geneti, Jonathan Mayo and Dado Yami, who all have PRs below 2:06. Also keep an eye on Eliud Tarus, who will debut on the Marathon: this Spring he ran a half marathon of 1:00:04.

The most likely canditate for the win in the women’s race is Olympic champion Tiki Gelana with a PR of 2:18:58, who’ll try to set a course record (currently 2:21:09, set by Meseret Hailu in 2012).  She has won Amsterdam in 2011, so she has the experience to do well here too. But do not count out Flomena Cheyech, the winner of the Rome 2013 half marathon improved her marathon PR from 2:25:13 to 2:22:44 in the past two years. Also contending for a place on the podium is Meseret Legese, who won in Amsterdam in 2009. With a PR of 2:26:15 she might not have the speed of Cheyech and Gelana, but in the marathon anything can happen!

Dutch national elites: all eyes on Rio

With the 2016 Rio Olympics getting closer, the Netherlands’ fastest  marathoners use Amsterdam as an opportunity to qualify. This is not the easiest of tasks, as the Dutch National Olympic Committee demands that atlethes run faster than 2:11:00 to secure a place in the next Olympic marathon, while the IAAF Qualifying Standard is only 2:17:00. At least three Dutch atletes will try to meet this qualifying standard. Michel Butter has a PR of 2:09:58 (Amsterdam, 2012), but is coming back after being sidelined by a stress fracture. He’s aiming for a negative split and plans to pass the halfway point at 65:30: I want to feel like a lion in a cage up to the 30km point, after that I’ll set it free! Khalid Choukoud will run his second marathon after running 2:10:52 in Rotterdam, 2013. He’ll likely run the first half in about 64:45 together with Abdi Nageeye (PR 2:11:33), who’s confident to run (far?) below 2:10 on Sunday. Butter, Choukoud and Nageeye all feel very fit. It will be interesting to see whether Choukoud’s and Nageeye’s more brazen start will get them sub 2:10 times. Or will Butter’s more conservative approach pay off and he’ll pass his countrymen in the second half of the marathon?

Report by William Verheul