IAAF - International Association of Athletics Federations

04/18/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/18/2019 04:53

Weekend road preview: Mekasha targets course record in Dongying, Asefa looks to regain Yangzhou title

Organisers of the Yellow River Estuary International Marathon have assembled a deep field capable of breaking the men's and women's course records at the IAAF Gold Label road race in Dongying on Saturday (20).

Waganesh Mekasha is a serious title contender and arguably the most in-form woman on the entry list. The rising Ethiopian achieved a big personal best of 2:22:45 to finish fourth at Dubai Marathon in January. Since her first international marathon in Singapore in 2014, when she took the top honours in 2:46:54, the 27-year-old has improved her lifetime best each time in four races including her victories in Padua and Hengshui last year.

Should such momentum continue in the Chinese city of Dongying, Mekasha stands a good chance of breaking the course record of 2:24:45 set by two -time winner Letebrhan Haylay last year.

Caroline Cheptanui Kilel of Kenya is actually the fastest woman on paper, but her career best time of 2:22:34 was recorded back in 2013 when she took the victory in Frankfurt. After clocking 2:27:39 to win the Daegu Marathon in 2016, the 38-year-old hasn't bettered 2:30 since. She competed in Dongying last year and finished fifth in 2:34:39.

Fellow Kenyan Agnes Kiprop is also returning to the familiar course following her fourth-place finish in 2017. The 39-year-old achieved her PB of 2:23:54 in 2011 and has maintained a high level of competitiveness, with her last victory coming two months ago in Hannover.

Afera Godfay is another runner whose PB is faster than the course record. Last year the 27-year-old Ethiopian trimmed nearly five minutes off her PB to take fourth place in Shanghai in 2:23:54.

A total of 10 runners lining up for the men's race have a PB faster than the course record of 2:09:27. Marius Kimutai is the fastest entrant in the field with a PB of 2:05:47 set from his third-place finish at the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon. It will be his second race in the current season as the 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:10:37 to finish fourth in Chongqing last month.

Ethiopia's Girmay Birhanu registered his PB of 2:05:49 when he finished third in Dubai back in 2014. The 32-year-old came close to that mark in the following year when he won the Daegu Marathon in 2:07:26, his last sub-2:10 run.

Slyvester Kimeli Teimet of Kenya will return to Dongying aiming to improve on his eighth-place finish from last year. The 2:06:49 performer ran his previous eight races in China but has yet to gain a victory.

Ethiopia's Fikadu Kebede is another man to watch on Saturday. The former Rabat Marathon champion just improved his PB by 70 seconds to 2:08:27 in Dubai this season. Hicham Laqouahi of Morocco also bettered his PB in 2019, clocking 2:08:35 in Beppu two months ago.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF

Former champion Asefa returns to Yangzhou

Ethiopia's Sutume Asefa will return to the Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon on Sunday (21), aiming to retain the title she took from the 2017 edition of the IAAF Gold Label road race.

The 24-year-old landed a 1:10:30 victory at the scenic Chinese city two years ago after winning a duel against fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh in the final kilometre. After renewing her personal best to 1:07:54 with a victory in Milan last March, she failed to compete at her best level in Yangzhou last month and only finished ninth in 1:12:11.

While Asefa will be keen to bounce back and regain the top honours, she will meet great challenge in front of a loaded field.

Her compatriot Degitu Azimeraw could be the biggest threat. The 20-year-old showed great quality in just her first year in senior level, clocking 1:06:47 in her first international half marathon race last February and winning the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon with another sub-70-minute run last April. Two months ago, she improved her PB to 1:06:07 to finish fourth at the RAK Half Marathon.

Pauline Kamulu is another woman to watch. The Kenyan achieved a career best of 1:06:56 when taking bronze at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships last year. The 24-year-old bettered 70 minutes for the fifth straight time in March when she clocked 1:08:34 at the Bahrain Night Half Marathon.

With the absence of four-time defending champion Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia, who set the course record of 59:52 in 2015, Bahrain's Abraham Cheroben, runner-up last year, is the highest returner with the fastest PB in the line-up. The 26-year-old will target nothing but the top place of the podium in his third consecutive appearance in Yangzhou.

Cheroben finished third in Yangzhou two years ago and set an Asian record of 58:40 in Copenhagen seven months later. Last year he gained a second-place finish in Yangzhou and took the silver medal at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia.

With lifetime best of 58:51 recorded in Copenhagen in 2017, Alex Korio is the second-fastest entrant. More recently the 28-year-old Kenyan clocked 1:01:11 to finish 14th in Ras Al Khaimah.

Shadrack Kimining, the third-place finisher last year, is another title contender. The 23-year-old Kenyan will not only enjoy the advantage of being familiar with the point-to-point course as it was his third straight year in Yangzhou, but also compete with great confidence after improving his PB to 59:42 two months ago.

The field also include Kenyan Wilfred Kimitei who clocked a PB of 59:40 last year as well as Berehanu Tsegu of Ethiopia, who stormed to 59:41 on his half marathon debut last month.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF