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Posted: May 20, 2016:  

Athletics: Ten To Watch At The 2016 Ottawa 10K

The Ottawa 10K is the only IAAF Gold Label 10K race in North America, making it a regular stop on the circuit for many elite athletes. Several runners in this year’s race have already qualified for the Summer Olympics and will be using the 10K as a tune-up before they head to Rio in August.

Watch out for these 10 names on Saturday, May 28:


Peres Jepchirchir KENYA
The runner up in Ottawa last year, Jepchirchir is off to a great start in 2016. Already she has won the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and, en route to setting the course record at the Yangzhou Half Marathon last month, she passed 10k in 31:16. More recently she won the Bengaluru 10k under very hot humid conditions in 32:15, and she ran 30:55 at the Prague 10k last year. Following the Ottawa 10k she will focus on earning a berth on Kenya’s Olympic team for the 10,000m. But first, Gladys Cherono’s 2015 Ottawa 10k course record (30:56) could be in jeopardy.

Mamitu Daska ETHIOPIA
Daska won the 2015 Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s biggest road race, by almost a full minute, such is her talent. She also has a personal best time of 31:04 (Boston 2014). On the track, she raced to a 30:55.56 clocking at the 2015 Hengelo meet narrowly missing qualifying for the Ethiopian team for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. She has twice finished 8th in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships most recently in 2015. The 32 year old has also run a superb 2:21:59 marathon (Frankfurt 2011). Nothing short of victory would satisfy this talented Ethiopian.

Yebrgual Melese ETHIOPIA
Melese finished runner-up to Mamitu Daska at the 2015 Great Ethiopian Run, and has a best time of 31:40. A year ago she ran 32:40.4 for 10,000m in Addis Ababa - approximately 8,000 feet above sea level. In 2013 she represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships finishing 29th. Now 26 years of age she is looking for a major breakthrough in Ottawa.

Lanni Marchant CANADA
Since breaking the Canadian women’s marathon record in Toronto (October 2013) with 2:28:00, this London, Ontario native has been on a tear. A year ago she discovered form at the 10k distance racing to a 3rd place finish in the Ottawa 10k with an excellent 31:49 personal best. On the track, she ran 31:46.94 to qualify for the Rio Olympics in the 10,000m. She finished 18th at the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. The 32-year-old criminal lawyer intends to double 10,000m/marathon in Rio. Between training camps in Kenya and Flagstaff she has spent three months at high altitude in 2016.

Natasha Wodak CANADA
Flashes of brilliance, such as her Canadian 10,000m record of 31:41.59 a year ago, have demonstrated Wodak has the goods to be world class. That time beat the 2016 Canadian Olympic standard. Her 4th place finish in last year’s Ottawa 10k, in another personal best of 31:59, is another such highlight. Unfortunately, a stress fracture in her left foot limited her progress this year and it remains to be seen how sharp she will be for Ottawa. Wodak spent several weeks at a high altitude training camp with friend and rival Lanni Marchant this spring.


Simon Cheprot KENYA
Cheprot, 22, returns to Ottawa with a much more impressive resume than a year ago, having finished 6th in the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff (March 26). Last year’s Ottawa runner up in 27:57, he passed the 10k mark in Cardiff in a swift 28:00 indicating he is in extremely good shape. With a personal best of 27:41 (Prague 2014), he might well be the man to beat Deriba Merga’s 2009 course record of 27:24, if conditions are right. On May 7, he tuned up for Ottawa with a victory at the hot and very humid Okpekpe International 10km Road Race in Nigeria.

Mohamed Ziani MOROCCO
An exciting young up and comer, this 23 year old ran an eye catching 27:28 at a 10k race in Casablanca on March 6th of this year though the course length is in dispute. Still, he finished third in a very strong field. It also marked an improvement of nearly a minute over his previous personal best. He won the 2016 Rabat International Half Marathon in 1:01:21 on March 13th. Ziani is a member of the Moroccan Royal Guard but training with the national team at the Ifrane high altitude camp. Ottawa will mark his first time racing outside North Africa.

Reuben Kiplagat Maiyo KENYA
This 24year-old Kenyan is relatively unknown apart from a few races in Europe such as his personal best 10k time of 28:04 (2014 Berlin). That was only his second international race. A year ago he ran 28:48.1 (hand timed) for 10,000m in Nairobi. On April 22nd he ran another high altitude 10,000m in 29:16.4 at the Kenya Police Services Championships. Injured with shin splints and a calf strain for much of 2014 and 2015, he has earned money pacemaking at both the 2015 Valencia Marathon and 2016 Seoul International Marathon. Maiyo trains with former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang. He could be a podium finisher in Ottawa.

Yitayal Atnafu ETHIOPIA
Just 23 years old, Atnafu has a superb curriculum vitae with excellent personal bests ranging from 13:08.13 in the 5000m to 2:08:53 in the marathon. The latter he achieved during a 7th place finish in Paris this spring. In between, he has run 10k in 28:13 (Rennes 2013) although he has run 27:50.70 for 10,000m on the track. Atnafu possesses the ability to earn victory in Ottawa.

Aziz Lahbabi MOROCCO
Aziz represented Morocco at both the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow over 5000m, but didn’t make the finals. He took home the 5,000m bronze medal at the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick and went on to record a personal best of 13:04.06 two years later. Since then, Aziz has concentrated on the longer distances with a personal best 10k of 27:45 (Mohammedia 2015). On March 10 of this year, he finished second in Abu Dhabi 10k in 28:10 before running 1:02:49 in Yangzhou half marathon. He will also challenge for victory.

Updated: May 20, 2016

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