As the youngest recruit to join the RunCzech family, the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon has garnered IAAF Silver Quality Label status for this year’s race. And while this is a great result, the organizer’s sights are already set on raising the bar even higher in the future. This is something that can be seen from the incredible start pack featuring seven men with times under 61 minutes plus five women who have completed the half marathon under 71 minutes. On top of the elite line-up, local fans can look forward to seeing famous Sokolov native Ivana Sekyrová on the course.
“It’s expected that the men’s category will be dominated by Kenyan runners. The two biggest favourites Nicholas Kipkemboi and Edwin Kiptoo share the exact same personal bests of 1:00:11,” reveals manager of the elite athletes Jana Moberly. While Nicholas Kipkemboi ran his best time at last year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon and already has one RunCzech race win under his belt (the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon in 2012), Edwin Kiptoo will be racing in the Czech Republic for the first time. However he’s been running in great form this year. His personal best hails from Dubai half marathon back in February.
“The elite start pack is of a high calibre, and on top of this, for the first time ever the race will be streamed live on Seznam.cz. These are two key steps towards achieving Gold IAAF Quality Label status which we’d love to make happen for Karlovy Vary,” says President of the Organising Committee, Carlo Capalbo.
Smashing the current race record of 1:01:21, created last year by Ethiopian runner Teshome Mekonen, will be no easy feat for the men behind the start line however. Seven men have already managed to complete the half marathon course faster than this, and will be keen to shave some more time off this limit.
Breaking the mould of African winners in terms of the women, the top podium spot at last year’s Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon went to the French runner Christelle Daunay who proceeded to also pick up the European Championship. We’re unlikely to see such a surprise result this year. The elite start pack will be dominated by Ethiopian runners, one of whom is expected to emerge from the race triumphant. The main favourites to watch out for are Tsehay Desalegn (1:09:04) and Mulu Seboka (1:09:53). Beating last year’s winning time of 1:09:17 certainly won’t be easy for either one of them however. That said they should be helped out by stiff competition from three other runners all of whom boast times under 71 minutes.
A number of European endurance women runners will also be taking part. Set to battle it out for best European runner are Ukrainian runners Olha Kotovska and Olena Burkovska, Belarusian talent Volha Mazuronok along with Irish runner Fionnuala Britton.
When it comes to the Czechs, RunCzech race star Jiří Homoláč and winner of this year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon can expect to be given a run for his money by rivals Pavel Dymák and Robert Míč.
Queen of the previous two race years among the Czech ladies, Olympian Ivana Sekyrová wouldn’t miss out on the Karlovy Vary half marathon for the world. She will be competing against regular rival, fellow Czech endurance runner hero Petra Kamínková.