Elite athletes taking part in the seventh ever Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon (the final event in the RunCzech Running League 2017, awarded the IAAF Gold Label) have ambitious plans. The fastest runners, including last year’s winner Barselius Kipyego, will all have their sights set on smashing the one hour barrier, while one of the best women half marathon runners of all time – Violah Jepchumba – will also be keen to make a new race record. Meanwhile in the Czech camp, runner Jiří Homoláč is preparing to enhance his personal best time on Ústí turf as Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová announces her intention to run the fastest Czech women’s half marathon on record!
A number of elite runners will be heading to Ústí nad Labem just one week following the Birell Prague Grand Prix. “The 10K through night-time Prague was a phenomenal success. When your race plays host to a world record (to be ratified) seeing women complete the course in under thirty minutes for the first time ever, there’s no other word for it,” RunCzech Organising Committee President, Carlo Capalbo reveals, speaking of Joyciline Jepkosgei’s incredible performance. “I can’t promise any more new world records at the Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon, but you can bet attempts will be made to break through the one hour barrier and make a new Czech record. And I think those things are well worth witnessing too,” Capalbo adds.
Thousands of runners will take part in the Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon, the very best of whom will all have their hearts set on smashing the hour barrier. Any time under this is considered a truly world-class performance and Ústí witnessed just that at that last year’s race thanks to Kenyan runner Barselius Kipyego who will also be appearing this year. “A runner’s chances of getting under hour barrier are dependent on a whole host of factors ranging from the weather, their current shape as well as bog-standard luck, but I’m confident that the runners have it in them. Three other runners apart from Kipyego have run sub-60 min., so it could pay off,” says Jana Moberly, the elite field coordinator.
Of those competing in Ústí, the following runners all boast times of under one hour: Barselius Kipyego (59:15, also the record holder of the Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon), RunCzech Racing Team member Kenneth Keter (59:48), Moroccan runner Lahbabi Aziz (59:25) and the Kenyan Solomon Kirwa Yego. In fact his time of 58:44 emerged as the very best performance of last year, though doesn’t appear on the official IAAF rankings since the Ostia course doesn’t adhere to the strict IAAF criteria required for acknowledging race records.
The women’s start line also boasts an excellent star-studded cast. Violah Jepchumba, the Kenyan native representing Bahrain is the fifth fastest half marathon runner of all time and a clear candidate for an Ústí victory. “Violah proved her calibre at this year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, where she ran a time of 1:05:22 – fifth fastest time ever. She was also keen to make history at the Birell Prague Grand Prix held on Saturday, however in the end finished third despite putting in an excellent performance. She’ll certainly want to seize the opportunity in Ústí to make up for this slight disappointment,” Jana Moberly reveals. Others keen to ensure a sport on the podium include Lucy Cheruiyot, who finished second place last year in Ústí with a time of 1:08:17 and Yvonne Jelagat, whose current personal best stands at 1:08:19.
The current half marathon best time on record among the Czech women continues to be held by Alena Peterková. Dating back to 24th September 1994 at the world half marathon championships in Oslo, Norway it is certainly in need of updating. Back then her time of 1:11:02 was enough to secure her 13th place overall and remains at the top of the Czech rankings. It took over 20 years for any woman runner to come close to matching that. With a performance of 1:11:06, Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová, a RunCzech Racing team member who finished 14th at the IAAF World Championships marathon 2017, was just four seconds shy of the longstanding record at last year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. And she’ll definitely be keen to shave those seconds off her time on this occasion!
“For the first time I’m openly saying that I want to try for the national record at the Ústí race. My legs are a tad weary after last Saturday’s Grand Prix, but nothing can stop me. I believe I can run that time and I’m going to give it my all. The Ústí course is a little bit more challenging but I’ll be spurred on by the local atmosphere and am really looking forward to it,” Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová revealed.
The seventh ever Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon will get under way at 15.00 on 16th September from Mírové náměstí. In addition to 3 700 participants taking part in the main race, a further 3 000 will join the non-competitive three-kilometre dm Family Run. The Spolchemie Czech Handbike Cup for physically disabled athletes will kick off from the same spot at noon.
The Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon will be broadcast live on ČT Sport and online at www.runczech.com starting from 2.50 p.m. CET.