Joyce Chepkirui says she’s in the kind of form to run the best race of her career at Saturday’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. The Kenyan, who is a training partner of world half marathon record holder Florence Kiplagat, targets a time well under the course record of 66:48, set by the World 10,000 m silver medallist Gladys Cherono last year.
But the competition will be tough, including the World Cross Country Champion Emily Chebet. The men’s race also has high qualitz with eight runners who have personal bests of sub 61 minutes.
The Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. Its popularity continues to grow on the broad scale with full entry capacity of 12,500 reached last December.
A year ago Joyce Chepkirui was unlucky when she suffered of an Achilles tedon problem during her marathon debut in London. She still managed to finish, but 2:35:54 and 15th place was obviously not what she had hoped for. There are no problems before Saturday’s race and Chepkirui has in the meantime produced a stunning performance when she concentrated on shorter distances.
In Berlin’s 10 k race Asics Grand 10 the 25 year-old won with 30:37 minutes last October. This puts her in sixth position in the world alltime list, only 16 seconds away from the world record. And it suggests she should be able to well improve her personal best of 67:03. When she goes to the start line on Saturday Chepkirui hopes to produce a similar performance to that of Berlin.
“I’m in the same kind of shape I was before Berlin,” said the Kenyan, who revealed that one of her training partners in the high altitude training camp in Iten is Florence Kiplagat. The Kenyan sensationally broke the half marathon world record seven weeks ago when she ran 65:12 in Barcelona.
The current course record of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon stands at 66:48. It was Kenya’s newly crowned World Half Marathon Champion Gladys Cherono who ran this time a year ago. Chepkirui is definitely going for this and aiming high.
“My aim is to run sub 66 minutes,” she announced during the press conference in the aptly named Cloud Bar of Prague’s Hilton Hotel, overlooking the city. Does she even expect to come close to the world record? “I know the time of the record,” she replied, but also added: “When I left Kenya yesterday Florence told me: May be you will break my record!”
The women’s field of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon is exceptionally strong. Seven more runners have personal bests of sub 70 minutes. Chepkirui’s strongest rivals could be fellow Kenyan Emily Chebet, who has run 68:20, and Firehiwot Dado. The Ethiopian clocked her PB of 68:35 when she won the New York Half Marathon two years ago.
The men’s race also looks very open. Four runners are entered with personal bests under the hour. Ethiopia’s Hunegnaw Mesfin and Kenya’s Peter Kirui each have the same PB of 59:39 while Philemon Limo (Kenya) has gone a fraction faster with 59:30.
Another Kenyan, Evans Barkowet Kiplagat, has a best of 59:56. However Ethiopia’s course record holder Atsedu Tsegay, who has run 58:47 to set the national record in Prague in 2012, has had to withdraw because of typhoid infection.
Two other Kenyans featuring in Saturday’s race have gone tantalisingly close to the one hour mark and could hope to dip under 60 minutes in Prague: Henry Kiplagat has run 60:01 and Nicholas Kipkemboi’s PB is 60:15.
Live Coverage on Saturday
A live stream of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon will be available on Saturday under the following link: http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/10183677624-beh/214471291014001-bezecky-serial/
While commentary will be in Czech there will be a live Twitter service with updates on the elite races in English on the Run Czech website at: www.runczech.com The race starts at 1200 Central European Time.
Run Czech Racing: A new initiative from Prague
Organisers in Prague began a new initiative this year: Carlo Capalbo, the President of the organising team of the Run Czech events, introduced Run Czech Racing during today’s press conference. The team features a group of up to 15 international athletes.
Wherever they compete around the world they will represent Run Czech Racing. Additionally these runners have a special connection to the events staged by Run Czech and will be present in Prague at certain times of the season. “They can stay here and we want them to connect with our runners,” said Capalbo, who hopes that in the future Czech elite runners could benefit from this as well.
Main contenders of the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon
Philemon Limo KEN 59:30
Hunegnaw Mesfin ETH 59:39
Peter Kirui KEN 59:39
Evans Kiplagat Barkowet KEN 59:56
Henry Kiplagat KEN 60:01
Nicholas Kipkemboi KEN 60:15
Cuthbert Nyasango ZIM 60:26
Abere Kassw ETH 60:58
Dawit Weldesilasie ERI 61:07
Daniel Wanjiru KEN 61:10
Gladwin Mzazi RSA 61:12
Mosinet Geremew ERI Debut
Joyce Chepkirui KEN 67:03
Abebu Gelan ETH 67:57
Wude Ayalew ETH 67:58
Genet Getaneh ETH 68:18
Emily Chebet KEN 68:20
Firehiwot Dado ETH 68:35
Waganesh Mekasha ETH 68:48
Malika Asahssah MAR 69:11
Azusa Nojiri JPN 70:53
Esther Chemtai KEN Debu