Brigid Kosgei, Peres Jepchirchir, Fancy Chemutai, Mule Wasihun and Julien Wanders are targeting quick times in the United Arab Emirates
Fast times are on the cards for Friday’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, with top fields including the likes of Brigid Kosgei and Julien Wanders in action.
Kenya’s women’s marathon world record-holder Kosgei will be joined on the start line in the United Arab Emirates by a further 10 women with sub-67-minute personal bests, while the elite men’s field features 11 athletes with sub-60-minute PBs.
Former world half-marathon record-holder Peres Jepchirchir, reigning world half-marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta and 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon winner Fancy Chemutai will be racing, together with Joan Chelimo Melly, Birhane Ababel Yeshane, Evaline Chirchir, Rosemary Wanjiru, Ababel Yeshaneh and Vivian Kiplagat.
“I think Ras Al Khaimah is a fantastic course as several world records were broken on it before,” said Kosgei.
“While I’m preparing now for the London Marathon, I would like to break my personal record this weekend for the half-marathon.”
Kosgei has a PB of 65:28 which she ran last March, but she clocked the fastest ever half-marathon time by a woman at last year’s Great North Run with 64:28, though that course is not eligible for record purposes.
“This is the same race where I almost broke the world record – this time the course is faster and I want the world record,” added Chemutai, who ran 64:52 in 2018.
The women’s world record currently stands at 64:51 by Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017, while the men’s record mark is Geoffrey Kamworor’s 58:01 from last September.
Wanders, Switzerland’s European half-marathon record-holder with 59:13, will be joined by last year’s London Marathon third-placer Mule Wasihun, plus Kenyan cross-country champion Kandie Kibiwott, 59:09 half-marathoner Leonard Barsoton and Abdelaati Iguider, who won world indoor 1500m gold in 2012 and makes his debut at the distance.
After his European 10km record in Valencia, Wanders said his training has gone well and he is looking to break the 59-minute barrier.
“It is a course that I like quite a lot, my training group helped me to arrive here in good shape,” he said.
Also in the field are world leader Alexander Mutiso Munyao (59:09), Solomon Berihu, Amdalak Belihu and Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo.
This year’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon will see a prize purse of AED 1,219,000 (about $332,000) distributed among the leading elite runners as well as the UAE national and age group categories.
The elite races begin at 7am local time on Friday (February 21), which is 3am UK time.