By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Defending champion Barselius Kipyego and Violah
Jepchumba of Kenya will start as the favourites at the Mattoni
Labem Half Marathon in the north-central Czech city on Saturday.
Kipyego, who set the
race record with his 59:15 personal best last year, is one of
four men in the field who have dipped under the one-hour mark
for the distance.
The others are
Kenyan Kenneth Keter, who clocked 59:48 last year; Lahbabi Aziz
of Morocco who ran 59:25 in 2014; and another Kenyan, Solomon
Kirwa Yego, who clocked 58:44 last year on the fast Ostia
Yego has the best
time of the entrants this season at 59:50 from February’s Ras Al
Khaimah race where he finished fourth.
impressed at the Paris Marathon two months later where he
clocked a 2:07:12 lifetime best to finish fourth.
Kipyego, 24, clocked
1:00:47 in his only half marathon this year, finishing fourth in
Prague in April.
Keter ran 1:01:05 in
Ras Al Khaimah in February, where he finished eighth and Lahbabi
1:02:17 in Istanbul in April.
Ismail Juma of
Tanzania and Kenyans Josphat Kiprop Kiptis and Josphat Kimutai
Tanui, with 1:00:09, 1:00:21 and 1:00:38 bests respectively,
should be in the hunt as well.
Jepchumba, 26, leads
the women’s field. The Kenyan is one of history’s fastest women
over 10km and the half marathon, with 30:05 and 1:05:22 lifetime
bests to rank second and fifth over the distances all-time.
came in the same race, when she finished second to Joyciline
Jepkosgei at the Prague Half Marathon on April 1.
She was nearly as
fast at last weekend’s Birell Prague 10km, where she clocked
30:25 to finish third behind yet another world record run by her
former compatriot Jepkosgei.
Others in the hunt
include Lucy Cheruiyot, the runner-up last year at 1:08:17 and
Yvonne Jelagat, whose current personal best stands at 1:08:19.
Jepkemboi Ndiwa and Lydia Rotich, who have clocked 1:10:08 and
1:10:57, could play a role as well.
two-time Olympic 5,000m champion Meseret Defar from Ethiopia
will compete in the Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sept. 17.
The Ethiopian will
face off against former Boston Marathon winners Caroline Rotich
from Kenya and Buzunesh Deba from Ethiopia as well as top
American distance runner Jordan Hasay.