By David Monti
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission
(19-Mar) -- Some of the world's best Kenyan runners, led by multiple world record holder Leonard Patrick Komon and two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, are set to dominate the Sportisimo Prague Half-Marathon in the Czech capital on Saturday, March 28. Organizers announced today a very strong elite field for the 17th edition of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
On the men's side, elite athletes coordinator Jana Moberly has recruited 12 runners with sub-61:00 personal bests, led by Komon who clocked 59:14 in his debut at the distance in Berlin last March. Komon is the world record holder for both 10-K (26:44) and 15-K (41:13). Also taking to the cobblestone streets of Prague will be reigning champion Peter Cheruiyot Kirui (59:22 PB), and 2014 Birell Prague Grand Prix 10-K winner Geoffrey Ronoh (59:45). Chepkirui recorded a decisive victory in 2014, winning by 32 seconds.
"I started pushing at 13-K and kept it going through 15-K," Kirui told Race Results Weekly after last year's race. "Around 18 kilometers, I looked back and I could still see one of my friends so I knew I had to keep pushing through the end. By 20 kilometers, I realized I would be the winner and would run a PB."
Two-time TCS New York City Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai has withdrawn from the race so he can focus on his preparations for the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 26.
"This is, of course, one of the strongest fields we've ever had in Prague," observed organizing committee president Carlo Capalbo through a statement. "We've never had 12 runners with personal bests of under 61 minutes in the race. I think we can look forward to some great competition."
On the women's side, Kiplagat --who has a career best time of 1:07:41-- will be challenged by Lucy Kabuu, the fastest women in the field with a 1:06:09 personal best. Veteran road racer Lineth Chepkurui (1:07:47) is the third top Kenyan in the women's field.
Athletes from other nations should also challenge for the podium, including Eritrean men Amanuel Mesel and Samson Gebreyohannes, Ethiopian men Adugna Takele and Atalay Yirsaw, and Ethiopian women Worknesh Degefa and Waganesh Mekasha. The top entrant from Europe is Croatian national record holder Lisa Nemec, fourth last summer at the European Championships Marathon.
The course records are 58:47, by Ethiopia's Atsedu Tsegay (2012), and 1:06:19 by Kenya's Joyce Chepkirui (2014).
According to the independent Association of Road Race Statisticians, the Sportisimo Prague Half-Marathon is one of Europe's most competitive road races. Indeed, the men's field of the 2011 edition is ranked the 24th most competitive half-marathon of all time with a field rank of 851 points.
Here are the top contenders with personal best times:
Leonard Komon, KEN 59:14
Peter Cheruiyot Kirui, KEN 59:22
Azmeraw Bekele, ETH 59:39
Geoffrey Ronoh, KEN 59:45
Daniel Wanjiru, KEN 59:58
Amanuel Mesel, ERI 1:00:10
Nicholas Kipkemboi, KEN 1:00:11
Samson Gebreyohannes, ERI 1:00:13
Adugna Takele, ETH 1:00:15
Cuthbert Nyasango, ZIM 1:00:26
Bernard Bett, KEN 1:00:46
Atalay Yirsaw, ETH 1:00:59
Jiří Homoláč, CZE 1:05:41
Petr Pechek, CZE 1:06:33
Lucy Kabuu, KEN 1:06:09
Edna Kiplagat, KEN 1:07:41
Lineth Chepkurui, KEN 1:07:47
Worknesh Degefa, ETH 1:07:49
Waganesh Mekasha, ETH 1:08:48
Netsenat Achamo, ETH 1:09:10
Lisa Nemec, CRO 1:09:16
Diane Nukuri, BDI 1:09:12
Afera Godfay, ETH 1:09:52
Anežka Drahotová, CZE 1:14:25
Ivana Sekyrová, CZE 1:14:06
Petra Kamínková, CZE 1:12:17