FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Course Records under threat in Prague Marathon
From Andy Edwards, in Prague
If Lydia Cheromei can combine her own considerable resources
With following the example of her training partner, then the course record
in Sunday's Volkswagen Prague Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label race will under
A world champion at 13, and now a mother and one of the world's best women
marathoners, Cheromei already shattered the course record for the
half-marathon in Prague five weeks ago.
And having seen her pal Mary Keitany demolish to London Marathon field
(with a sub-2.20 time) in the interim, Cheromei has all the incentive to
another fast time in the Czech capital.
"Mary Keitany won London in 2:19:19 and she is my training partner, this
boosts my morale and I know I can run well like her. I don't know if I can
run 2:19 or under 2:20 but I'm hoping to run well."
With a time advantage of more than four minutes over her nearest rival
going into Sunday's race, Cheromei knows this could be a special marathon
for her, though as ever, there is Kenyan modesty in her assessment.
"I've been training well and, together with my fellow athletes, shall try
to better the course record. I'm not sure if I can run faster than my
personal best – 2:23:01 when I was second in Dubai in January – but am
going to try my best."
The women's course record is held by Helena Kirop of Kenya with a fine
2:25:29 last year. Cheromei is now a familiar face on the Prague running
scene, having set the course record of 1:07:33 for the half marathon on
April 2. A prodigy when barely into her teens, winning a World junior Cross
Country title in Antwerp in 1991, Cheromei is flourishing again among an
impressive training group in Eldoret.
If she is aiming to join the select group of ten women who have broken the
2:20 barrier, Prague would have further cause to celebrate its rise in the
marathon firmament on a course which is by no means easy with a section of
If Cheromei runs to form, there should be strong competition for other
leading places: the Ethiopian Yeshimebet Tadesse clocked 2:27:45 in Dubai
last year and aiming to break 2:30 and better are a string of athletes,
including the Namibian record holder Helalia Johannes while South Africa's
Rene Kalmer, holder of 32 national records, runs her first competitive
marathon with a view to winning selection for the World Championships in
Daegu in August.
Whereas the women's race looks a foregone conclusion barring accidents, the
men's race is wide open.
Making the transition from high quality road racer over the shorter
distances to the marathon is a leap of faith, but Sammy Kosgei is quietly
confident that his achievements so far, including a world record for 25km
in Berlin in May 2010, will stand him in good stead for his competitive
"I'm feeling comfortable for the marathon. I will try to be a good marathon
runner. I have been training as usual in Kapsabet and the man in charge of
our training group is Claudio Berardelli, he has helped me a lot."
Mention of a rising star in the coaching world, Claudio Berardelli, strikes
a promising note for Kosgei's prospects. The Italian has already played a
key role in helping Kenyan luminaries such as Duncan Kibet and James
Kwambai to high achievements, notably in Rotterdam in 2009 when Kibet won
the narrowest of victories and both were credited with 2:04:27.
At 25, Sammy Kosgei's steady progress up the distance charts has
accelerated over the past two years. He achieved a significant landmark in
Berlin in 2009, breaking the hour for the half marathon with 59:36, then
returned the next year to set a world record of 1:11:50 for 25km.
He has certainly studied the recent form in Prague and, though as softly
spoken as the man who smashed the course record, his Kenyan compatriot
Eliud Kiptanui, he gave a measured response in terms of his own potential
and the men's field in general.
"Kiptanui has run 2:05:39 here, you can try to push for 2:05, maybe
2:04:59, yes but it depends on the weather; if it is good, you can try to
run very well. For me, in my first marathon, maybe I can run 2:07, 2:08."
There will certainly be strong opposition and the fastest man in the field
is last year's runner-up, Yemane Tsegay. The Ethiopian has run 2:06:30, for
fourth place in Paris in 2009, one of three men in the field with sub 2:08
performances. In terms of championship performance, he has the best
pedigree of the men's field with fourth place at the 2009 World
Championship marathon in Berlin.
Yemane admits to making a cardinal error worthy of a novice a year ago, one
which contributed to him fading late in the race, only to regroup and
finish second. "I made a mistake last year in wearing new shoes – I won't
make that mistake again!"
At the mature age of 38, Kenneth Mungara is the third of the sub-2:08
performers yet his best of 2:07:58 was not set in the distant past but in
winning the Toronto title last year. Adding to the East African mix is
Tanzania's Samson Ramadhani, the 2006 Commonwealth marathon champion. His
best of 2:08:01 was set when finishing fifth in London eight years ago, but
the quality field in Prague might help him re-discover his best form.