- National cross champ Kandie leads men’s assault in the UAE
- Mouth-watering contest expected in women’s race with big names listed for Friday’s showdown
It will be a battle of titans when athletes line up for the 14th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon in the United Arabs Emirates in the early hours of Friday.
The women’s race, which has world class athletes, will have two of Kenya’s fastest runners on parade. Prospects of breaking the world record cannot be ruled out.
Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei is the current world record holder. She set the record in 2017 during the Valencia Half Marathon after clocking 1:04:51.
This makes her the second fastest woman over the distance behind world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei, who clocked 1:04:28 last year during the Great North Half Marathon. However, the time was not ratified as a world record. Kosgei will be competing against compatriots Fancy Chemutai, the 2018 RAK Half Marathon champion, the 2017 RAK Half Marathon champion and former record holder, Peres Jepchirchir, the 2018 Prague Half Marathon champion Joan Chelimo and debutant Rosemary Wanjiru.
Kosgei, who trains in Kapsait, Elgeyo Marakwet County, will be seeking to better her personal best.
“I’m prepared for the race, and my target is to improve my personal best. Last year, I ran the fastest time, but the race is not recognised for world record times,” Kosgei, who is also the London Marathon champion, told Nation Sport.
“The half marathon is going to be a competitive one but I will give my best. I have been training for the last three months.”
Kosgei smashed the women’s marathon world record held by Briton Paula Radcliffe by 81 seconds after clocking 2:14:04 in the Chicago Marathon last year.
On the other hand, Chemutai missed the world record by one second in 2018 and she will be making another attempt on Friday.
“I look forward to running the fastest time. I predict a tough race,” Chemutai, who has been training in Kericho, said.
Jepchirchir, who trains in Kapsabet, Nandi County, said that she would give her best shot as she seeks to improve her personal best.
“I have good memories of the RAK Half Marathon because I entered into history books after breaking the world record,” Jepchirchir said.
Kenyans expect stiff competition from World Half Marathon Championships title holder Netsanet Gudeta from Ethiopia.
In the men’s race, the newly crowned Athletics Kenya Cross Country Championships champion Kibiwott Kandie will be up against compatriots Africa Cross Country Championships champion Alfred Barkach and Vincent Raimoi.
Two-time Paris Half Marathon champion Bernard Kimeli and Alexander Mutiso are also in the running against Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and European half marathon record holder Julien Wanders from Switzerland.