After ending the year on a high, Kenyan half marathon stars have been listed for the Ras al Khaimah race, even before the celebrations of their stellar wins this season are over.
Organisers of the 2021 edition set for February 19 have announced a strong elite field including the world’s fastest half marathoners.
Half Marathon world record-holders Kibiwott Kandie and Ababel Yeshaneh and world half women-only record holder Peres Jepchirchir as well as marathon world holder Brigid Kosgei are expected to set a lightning pace in the United Arab Emirates race.
After the stunning record-breaking time of 57:32 at the Valencia Half Marathon earlier this month, Kandie will be renewing rivalry with Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo, who finished second in the scintillating December 6 race.
Kandie, who was last week accorded a heroic welcome in Ravine in his home county – Baringo, will be returning to Al Marjan Island where he notched a win earlier this year as he kicked off a fruitful season.
Also returning to the Ras al Khaimah next year is Kandie’s compatriot Stephen Kiprop, who won the 14th edition of the race in 2019 in a personal best of 58.42, sharing the course record with Bedan Karoki who will also be taking part in the competition.
Kiprop and Karoki’s presence presents a clash of two course record holders.
Kiplimo of Uganda, the 20-year-old long-distance runner claimed victory and his country’s first medal at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, in October this year.
Alexander Mutiso,x who finished fourth at the Valencia half marathon, running under 58 minutes will also be seeking to rise to stardom.
The Kenyan contingent will be facing off against Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew, won the Dubai Marathon in 2018 and came in second at the 2019 edition of the London Marathon in 2.02.55, recording the fourth fastest time in history.
Seeking to run away with the title in the women category are world marathon record holder and reigning London marathon champion Brigid Kosgei, as well as Ababel Yeshaneh – the mixed Half Marathon World record holder from Ethiopia, who is also the Ras al Khaimah half marathon defending champion.
Ababel broke the record at the Ras al Khaimah race in 64.31 and will be heading to UAE to defend it.
Peres Jepchirchir recently won the World Half Marathon Championship this year in a time of 1.05.16 and set a new world half marathon record in the women-only race, before chalking up victory in Valencia, ending her 2020 season on a high. She won the Ras al Khaimah race in 2017.
Joining the world-class female field is world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, who recently clocked a remarkable time of 1.05.06 at the New Delhi Half Marathon.
She broke the 2019 Dubai Marathon course record in 2:17:08, writing the world’s fourth best marathon time ever. The winner of the New Delhi Half Marathon Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw is also listed in the string field.
Her stellar effort of 64.46 is the second-fastest half marathon time ever, so she is also one to watch.