Organisers of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon are looking forward to the third visit of top Kenyan Patrick Ivuti to their event, on Sunday, May 9.
On his two previous trips to the beautiful Czech capital, the 31 year old Ivuti has come away with record breaking victories, 61.00 for the half-marathon in 2007, and 2.07.48 for the full distance last year.
“If Patrick could set another record, that would make this our most successful marathon ever,” said race director Carlo Capalbo today (Tuesday). “We have already passed our target of increasing participation by 15%, but our priority is to achieve the IAAF Road Race Gold Label, which we already have for our half-marathon”.
Ivuti’s win last year left him just two seconds shy of the personal best he set in his debut in Chicago 2005. Two years later, on a sweltering day in Chicago, Ivuti had the biggest win of his career, outsprinting twice world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco.
Due to the 30C heat, the time was slow (2.11.11), and a recommendation from brother-in-law Jimmy Muindi, a six-time winner in Honololu himself, that Ivuti go there has resulted in similarly slow times for Ivuti’s sucessive two victories in Honolulu. But Prague last year proved that in temperate climes, Ivuti can still run fast. And he is unbeaten in four marathons over the last two years.
His manager Federico Rosa said today, “We are still expecting him to be one of our very best, and very soon”. With a squad that includes former world record holder, Paul Tergat, and current Olympic champion, Sammy Wanjiru, that’s high praise.
Ivuti will have plenty of top class opposition to make or mar his race, notably Yemane Tsegay, fourth in last summer’s IAAF World Championships. The Ethiopian has run 2.06.30, and finished a close third in the Hervis Prague Half-Marathon on March 27.
And Ivuti should be wary of his own colleague, Nicholas Kipruto Koech, who lowered Ivuti’s half-marathon record to 60.07 in Prague last year.
While the men’s race will doubtless be another Kenya v Ethiopia contest, Lyubov Morgunova (2.25.12) can take the example of a Russian one-two in last weekend’s London Marathon women’s race into her struggle against race favourite Helen Kirop of Kenya whose best of 2.24.54 is also under the current Prague women’s record of 2.26.33, set by Maura Viceconte of Italy in 2001.
Entries, which remain open until the day before the race, have already reached 6600, with a huge 50% representation from abroad. Last year’s field numbered 5800, so race director Capalbo’s target has already been outstripped with almost two weeks still to go before the race.