The start of this year’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon will be displaying an impressive line-up of elite runners. But will the participating African runners succeed in smashing the current race records? Manager of Elite Athletes taking part the race, Jana Moberly certainly believes it’s a distinct possibility: “We’ve got some top runners and, providing the weather conditions are right, we can start to think about this.”
Albert Kiplagat Matebor is the number one and as such stands as the favourite to win. The 32-year old Kenyan running talent managed to complete the Frankfurt Marathon the year before last with a time of 2:05:25. Kiptanui’s record in Prague from 2010 is only 14 seconds behind this.
Matebor is back in top form after returning from a break. He earned his living work on a farm and enjoys spending his free time listening to Kenyan music. He triumphed at the famous Gothenburg Half Marathon two years ago.
His compatriots Mariko Kiplagat Kipchumba (2:06:05) and Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo (2:06:31) aren’t too far behind him however. “They can all mutually help each other push past the 2:06 boundary,” Jana Moberly predicts.
Philemon Limo also features on the list of top stars having secured himself a number of fantastic times on Czech soil from half marathon courses as well as the 10 km Mattoni Grand Prix race which he still holds the record for with a time of 27:34.
The Eritrean pair Yonas Kifle (2:07:34) and Amanuel Mesel will surely also have their sights set on scooping up superior times than their counterparts. At just 22, Mesel who recently gave current world record holder, Zersenay Tadese a good run for his money at the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, will be making his debut marathon performance at this race.
In terms of the women, everyone in Prague right up to its cobblestones, will be looking forward to welcoming the much-exalted 35 year old Kenyan athlete, Lydia Cheromei (2:21:30 from last year in Dubai). Already picking up the Junior Championship title in cross-country running at the tender age of thirteen, Lydia took part in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 as well as the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The year before last, she broke the race records in Prague for both the half marathon and marathon distances. And as if this weren’t enough, last year she also emerged as the 4th greatest world champion running the half marathon course.
“Lydia taking part is something we can interpret as a seal of quality. She started off rather late this year, however once again chose Prague despite receiving offers from other prestigious marathons. She certainly won’t be running alone, a total of five women will be chasing after their dreams to smash the record,” the manager of elite runners adds. The current race record stands at 2:22:34.
It’s also worth watching out for two other Kenyan names- Caroline Rotich, who emerged with a fantastic result from the New York Half Marathon and Philes Ongori. The Ethiopian squad will be made up of Koren Jelela (2:22:43) and Ehitu Kiros (2:23:39).
In addition to the above, the line-up of elite runners will also include first-class athletes hailing from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Estonia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland and Hungary.
It also looks likely we’ll be in for an interesting spectacle when it comes to seeing local runners battle it out for the Czech Championship title. While Olympian runner, Jan Kreisinger won’t be taking part this year after deciding focus on shorter distances instead, in his place we have Petr Pechek, who has managed to complete the course under 2:10. Aside from road races, both have a number of successes under their belt in uphill running and trails.
There’s also a chance he may be caught up by the half marathon course champion and holder of this year’s best time, Vít Pavlišta (who has previously managed to complete the marathon course in 2:20:42) and Jiří Homoláč who emerged as the best local runner at the Hervis Prague Half Marathon held in April and who last year completed the marathon in 2:21:06.
Also taking part in the race is the Czech-Slovak long-distance runner and participant at two Olympic Games, Róbert Štefko. The 43-year old trainer for Kreisinger as well as others previously managed to complete the marathon in 2:09:53 which has earned him genuine admiration from his successors.
In terms of the women, Ostrava-based mother of three, Petra Pastorová supported by entrusted trainer, the legendary record holder Alena Peterková, will also be keen to show what she’s got. So far her best time is 2:39:42. A possible challenger for her could present itself in the form of mother and trail runner, Radka Churaňová.
Until next time…
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