IAAF - International Association of Athletics Federations

12/14/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/14/2018 07:16

Course record assaults on tap in Shenzhen and Mersin - weekend road racing preview

Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia will return to the Shenzhen Marathon on Sunday (16) eyeing to improve on her runner-up finish from last year and chase the course record at this IAAF Silver Label road race in the process.

In the absence of last year's winner Viktoria Poliudina of Kyrgyzstan, the 34-year-old Seboka is the top returning runner. Although she may not be in the same form as three years ago when she set her personal best of 2:21:56 PB in Dubai, the vastly-experienced Ethiopian, who has clocked sub-2:30 performances each every year since 2012, is still keen to improve on her 2:35:28 clocking last year and take down Poliudina's course record of 2:33:25.

It will be Seboka's third race of the year. She clocked 2:25:01 to finish fourth in Seoul in March and scored a 2:28:59 victory in Dalian two month later.

Kenyan veteran Flomena Chepchirchir, who just celebrated her 37th birthday earlier this month, will also be competing in Shenzhen for the second straight year, after finishing a distant 10th in 2017. Her best performance this year was a sixth place finish in Prague in 2:32:10.

Ethiopian duo Melkam Gizaw and Ashu Kasim are also title contenders. The 34-year-old Kasim set her PB of 2:23:09 to claim the title in Xiamen back in 2012, while Gizaw, 28, registered her life-time best of 2:24:28 to finished second in Seoul in 2016. But neither has run a race so far this season so their competitiveness remains to be tested.

Ethiopia's Markos Geneti, 34, is the fastest entrant in the men's field thank to his 2:04:54 third place finish in Dubai in 2012. He also finished second in Dubai two years later in 2:05:13 and sixth at the Tokyo Marathon in 2:07:25 in 2015. More recently he was second in Guangzhou 12 months ago clocking 2:10:06.

Like Geneti, David Kiyeng of Kenya is yet to prove his worth in 2018. The 35-year-old, a past winner in Reims, Seoul and Daegu, set his career best of 2:06:26 in 2009. His last notable race was a 2:08:58 win in Kosice in 2016, which was also his only sub-2:10 performance since April, 2012.

Kiyeng's countryman Samuel Ndungu, on the contrary, is the most in-form man in the field. The 30-year-old clocked 2:07:51 to finish second in Lisboa two month ago, just 47 seconds slower than his PB set in 2012.

The field also includes Edwin Kipngetich Koech of Kenya, who broke the Italian all-comers' record with 2:07:13 in Milan last April, and fellow Kenyan Edwin Kimaiyo, the third place finisher last year, whose 2:09:12 PB was set at the 2017 Shanghai Marathon where he finished fourth.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF

Limo, Kipchumba and Kiplagat the favourites in Mersin

Course records will also be targeted at the Mersin Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday (16).

With the forecast predicting temperatures to hover around 16 C throughout the race in this Turkish Mediterranean city, both the men's and women's records could be under threat on the flat and fast course. Organisers are hoping that the men's record of 2:11:21 set by Moroccan Hassane Ahouchar last year could be challenged by a solid field that includes Kenyans Kenneth Kiplagat Limo and Hillary Kipchumba and Evans Kiplagat of Azerbaijan.

Limo ran 2:10:24 in Madrid earlier this year while finishing second in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. The 28-year-old's last international marathon victory was in 2016 in Dongguan, China, where he beat Kipchumba into second place. He'll be aiming to repeat that on Sunday.

Kipchumba set his 2:08:23 lifetime best in Gyeongju, Korea in 2016. The Mersin Marathon will be his 15th over the distance, so he'll bring plenty of experience to the start line.

Kiplagat will be another experienced runner lining up on Sunday, arriving with a winning reputation on Turkish soil. Kiplagat won the Istanbul Marathon in 2016 and has a personal best of 2:07:46 set in 2014.

The favourites might be surprised by the 20-year-old marathon debutant Demeke Kasaw, the youngest man in the field, who has 1:01:43 half marathon credentials from last year.

Others to watch include Moses Too, the runner-up in Mersin last year, and Andrey Petrov of Uzbekistan, the marathon silver medallist at the 2017 Asian Championships.

On the women's side, expect an Ethiopia vs Kenya battle. With her career best of 2:28:11, Ethiopian Konjit Tilahun is one of the favourites along with compatriot Chaltu Dida, the winner at both the Tours and Toulouse marathons this year.

Kenyan Gladys Yator, a 1:08:39 half marathoner, is expected to be a factor. She ran 2:34:46 in the Marrakesh Marathon in January, the second marathon of her career. Gladys Chemweno has a PB of 2:30:30 from 2016 set when winning the Krakow Marathon. Nancy Jelagat, who finished second at the Hamburg Half Marathon with 1:10:18 this year, completes the Kenyan squad.

The women's course record stands at 2:28:47, set by Kenya's Truphena Chirchir last year.

Mersin, the tenth largest city in Turkey, is expecting to gather more than 100,000 participants in a 5km run which will start after the marathon.

Can Korkmazoglu (organisers) for the IAAF