The Volkswagen Prague Marathon looks set to continue its rise in quality of performances with the latest edition on 12th May. The elite fields have produced a number of world-class results in recent years of the Czech Republic’s premier running event. Seven runners with personal bests of sub 2:10 are on the start list released by the organisers today.
Among them is the fastest runner ever entered for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon: Kenya’s Albert Matebor has a personal best of 2:05:25.
The women’s field looks equally impressive with half a dozen competitors who have run faster than 2:25 in their careers. Top of the women’s rankings is Lydia Cheromei of Kenya who returns to the Czech capital where she set the current course record of 2:22:34 in 2011. The Volkswagen Prague Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Albert Matebor’s personal best of 2:05:25 is 14 seconds faster than Prague’s course record, set by Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya/2:05:39) in 2010. The 32 year-old achieved that time when finishing third in Frankfurt in 2011. His next marathon was in Paris a year ago, but back problems slowed him to 15th place in 2:11:44.
When Albert Matebor returned to Frankfurt in October 2012 the race was held in almost freezing conditions and times were consequently much slower than expected with the Kenyan finishing sixth in 2:08:53.
Since then Albert Matebor has only had one race when he finished second in the Mardrid half marathon with 63:02 earlier this month. Albert Matebor’s regular training group at home in Kapngetuny includes Geoffrey Mutai, the Boston Marathon course record holder and their sessions take advantage of the area’s 2,300 metres’ altitude.
Another two runners will be on the start line with personal bests of under 2:07 on 12th May. Mariko Kipchumba achieved a major improvement in knocking almost three minutes off his best last October in winning the Reims Marathon in France with 2:06:05.
His fellow Kenyan Benjamin Kiptoo (2:06:31) has won a number of significant international marathons in the past few years. Among them are Beijing (2008), Rome (2009) and Paris, where he clocked his personal best in 2011.
While last year’s third placed runner in Prague, Philemon Limo (2:09:25), also returns, a debutant could spring a surprise: Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) ran a superb race at the recent Hervis Prague Half Marathon, finishing second with a personal best of 60:10 minutes in very cold weather conditions and challenging the world record holder and training partner Zersenay Tadese all the way to the line with both Eritreans being given the same time. It was a very promising performance by the 22 year-old who now steps up to the marathon.
With such a strong elite fields, the organisers are hoping for fast times. “I think we have a good chance of getting pretty fast times. 2:06 might be possible, and if weather conditions are favourable we could even see an attack on the course record,” said Jana Moberly, the Elite Race Coordinator of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.
For Lydia Cheromei Prague is like a second home as she will be running the Volkswagen Prague Marathon for the third time in succession.She has also twice achieved success in the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, winning in 2011 and taking second a year ago.
Winning the the Volkswagen Prague Marathon two years ago with a course record of 2:22:34 has been one of the landmarks of her long career so far, which began back in 1991. At the age of just 13 Lydia Cheromei won the junior title at the World Cross Country Championship.
A year ago it looked as if Lydia Cheromei would retain her Prague title. The Kenyan had a substantial lead, but then developed a leg injury in the closing stages and dropped out agonisingly close to the finish line, at the 40 k mark.
However in the autumn she bounced back. Lydia Cheromei won the Yokohama Marathon in 2:23:07 after finishing fourth in the World Half Marathons Championships six weeks earlier. Coming back to Prague she will be eager to make up for last year’s disappointment.
However it will be more difficult than ever for Lydia Cheromei to win in Prague on 12th May against the strongest women’s field ever assembled for this event. Six more runners have personal bests of sub 2:26: Koren Jelela (Ethiopia/2:22:43), Caroline Rotich (Kenya/2:23:22), Ehitu Kiros (Ethiopia/2:23:39), Philes Ongori (Kenya/2:24:20), Azusa Nojiri (Japan/2:24:57) and Selomie Getnet (Ethiopia/2:25:15).
The course record will be a prime target on 12th May. After finishing second in the Berlin Half Marathon earlier this month with a fine 68:01, Philes Ongori said: “I am in full training for the Prague Marathon. I look forward to that race where I want to run a time between 2:20 and 2:21.”
More information about the Volkswagen Prague Marathon is available online at: PragueMarathon.com.