The Czech capital will stage one of the highest calibre half marathon races anywhere in the world on March 28: a dozen runners with personal bests under 61 minutes will be on the start list for the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. The women’s race is just as strong in prospect with nine athletes showing fastest performances of under 70 minutes. Leading the charts for fastest career times are Leonard Komon and Lucy Kabuu. The Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label race.
“This is, of course, one of the strongest fields we’ve ever had in Prague. We’ve never had 12 runners with personal bests of under 61 minutes in the race. I think we can look forward to some great competition,” says Carlo Capalbo, the President of the Organising Committee.
Three Kenyans take their full share of the spotlight: Leonard Komon, Peter Kirui and Geoffrey Ronoh. Komon is the fastest man entered with a personal best and world-class time of 59:14, achieved on the 27-year-old’s victorious half marathon debut in Berlin last year. The current world record holder for 10km (26:44) and 15km (41:13) will be running his second race at the half marathon. “Leonard is supposed to be in very good form and wants to run faster than his debut in Berlin,” says Jana Moberly, the co-ordinator for the international elite field.
It’s hard to imagine the race turning out to be slow with Leonard Komon on the start line. But Peter Kirui and Geoffrey Ronoh will be well prepared to handle any kind of pace. Kirui is the defending champion while Ronoh scored a sensational win in last year’s Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon and then the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km.
In the absence of Geoffrey Mutai who needs more time to regain fitness after injury, another Kenyan might spring a surprise: Daniel Wanjiru finished third in last year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, improving his best time to 59:59. In February he finished second in the prestigious Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates, only seven seconds slower.
The women’s race promises to be world-class with contenders such as the Kenyans Lucy Kabuu (66:09 personal best), the double World Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat (67:41) and Lineth Chepkurui (67:47) as well as the Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa (67:49). Kabuu has already been in excellent form this year with third place in the Dubai Marathon in 2:20:21. Lisa Nemec of Croatia should provide a European challenge among the lead group. She ran her fastest ever time to set a Croatian record of 69:16 with victory in Zagreb last November.