As the second regional event to feature on the RunCzech Running League calendar, the Mattoni České Budějovice Half Marathon certainly won’t be short of world-renowned starts. Prepare yourselves to watch current world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor compete alongside the race record holder, Daniel Chebii.
At the tender age of 21, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor from Kenya is this year’s half marathon world champion from Copenhagen as well as the 2011 junior world cross-country champion, where he managed to win despite being ranked fourth among the Kenyans. He went for it at full throttle right from the start, refusing to let anyone catch him. This provides a great indication of his potential.
He hails from the Rift Valley, birthplace to the best long-distance runners on the planet. He started out running mile-long track races, won the junior world cross country in 2011 going on to triumph at the Berlin half marathon with a time of 1:00:38 one month later – all at just seventeen years of age! He ran as one of the pacemakers to Patrick Makau during his world record marathon race. He has garnered fantastic results over a short space of time including the marathon (2:06:12, third in Berlin 2012). He ran last year’s Ras Al Khaimach half marathon in 0:58:54.
He also won this year’s world championship, defeating Zersenay Tadese, holder of the half marathon world record. “Now I want to run a world record” says the runner of his next plan. “I’m mentally prepared, that’s the main thing. It’s not a problem if you have that,” reveals the youngster who spends a lot of time training with Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda. “He really inspires me and I know I’m now capable of running in under 2:06 in the autumn,” he adds.
“He wants to take advantage of his good shape here and improve the race record which stands at under one hour,” says Jana Moberly, Manager of RunCzech Running League elite athletes. He’ll be helped out by other more experienced Kenyan runners, Daniel Chebii and Daniel Wanjiru, both of whom have managed to break the magical one hour limit.
Chebii put in a great performance at the first ever České Budějovice race held two years ago, scooping up a victory with a time of 0:59:49, earning him twentieth best time of the year while also rewarding České Budějovice with a position in the world rankings in its premiere year.
Wanjiru celebrated his 31st birthday last year with a triumph at the Karlovy Vary Half Marathon. He trains a lot at high Alpine altitudes in Austria where he is managed by Thomas Krejci. On arriving in the Alps, he proceeded to build his own house and begin rearing goats for milk. “I use the money I earn to support my family at home,” he explains. He made a significant improvement to his personal best time this April in Prague taking him to 0:59:59. He’d like to set his sights on running the full marathon some time soon.
In terms of the ladies, favourites include the number one Pauline Njeri from Kenya (1:07:55) as well as the young Ethiopian runner, 23-year old Betelhem Moges. She has already won both the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon (2013) and the Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon (2012). At this year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, she managed to improve on her personal best from Olomouc by one second.
Just as we saw the running couple Andrejev – Andrejeva run in Karlovy Vary we can look forward to checking out another adept married couple, except on this occasion they’ll be sporting the Ukrainian flag. Ivan Babaryka is already familiar with RunCzech runs, however this time will be bringing along his wife Tatiana Vilisova who is three years his senior.
What about the Czechs? Among the men, we can expect to see a battle between local star, Jan Kreisinger and fresh marathon champion Petr Pechek. The ladies will see last year’s half marathon and marathon champion Petra Pastorová return after taking a short break from the sport.
“Already in its first race year, Daniel Chebii was able to prove how fast the Mattoni České Budějovice Half Marathon course can be run. Such a jam-packed start line promises to deliver some interesting results and we can certainly expect České Budějovice being spoken about throughout the athletics world. This is not only important for České Budějovice but for Czech sport as a whole,” reveals the President of the Organising Committee, Carlo Capalbo.