Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wanjiru vs Tadese set for half marathon in Abu Dhabi

The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, which hosts the final race of the Formula One season in two weeks’ time will be put to further sporting effort on 7 January 2010, as Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru, and recently crowned four-time World Half Marathon champion Zersenay Tadese have been signed-up for the Zayed International Half Marathon, a race which was last held in 2008.

With $300,000 first prize on offer, a successful run in Abu Dhabi for the 22-year-old Wanjiru will mean winnings of close to one million dollars in a little over two months. His victory in Chicago last weekend not only won him $175,000, but it also wrapped up the World Marathon Majors’ Jackpot of $500,000, which he will formally pick up in New York in two weeks’ time.

The young Kenyan won the inaugural Zayed International Half Marathon in January 2008, but the race was cancelled in early 2009, while waiting for finalisation of the Yas Marina circuit.

Wanjiru is World record holder for the half marathon, with his 58:33 in The Hague in 2007, and his translation to the marathon has been the most successful in history, with victory in his last four races, including the Olympic Games, in superfast times, between 2:05:10 and 2:06:39.

As his elder statesman colleague, former world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat said last week, “It’s only a matter of time before Wanjiru breaks the marathon world record.”

It won’t be an easy $300,000 in Abu Dhabi however as reigning four-time World Half Marathon champion Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea will also be on the start line, having just blitzed the hopes of many of the world’s best half marathoners on the streets of Birmingham on 11 October.

Also in the field will be this year’s fastest, Kenyan Patrick Makau (58:52) who has twice been World Half Marathon silver medallist on the heels of the Eritrean’s victories in 2007 and 2008.

The women’s race will also feature a stellar line-up.

The world record holder for the Half Marathon Kenyan born Kiplagat, now running for of the Netherlands, who won the last edition of the Zayed International Half Marathon in 2008 is also signed up.

However, there must be serious question marks surrounding Kiplagat's participation given that she has been sidelined with a knee injury for most of 2009 and recently had to withdraw from the defence of her World Half Marathon title in Birmingham.

But, 27-year-old Mary Keitany of Kenya, who has the top two times in the world this year, including the second best ever, 66:36, and won the World title in Birmingham in the absence of reigning three-time champion Kiplagat has also been secured for the race on 7 January.

Pat Butcher for the IAAF

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Over 30,000 Ethiopians registered to take part in Great Ethiopian Run

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Over 30,000 people have been registered to run for the 2009 Great Ethiopian Run, which has become an international event since the past eight years.

The 2009 Great Ethiopian Run where 32,000 participants are expected to run is scheduled to be held on November 22, 2009 in Addis Ababa.

Foreign athletes from Kenya and other countries are also expected to participate in the event.

The registration of the participants of the Great Run will be finalized in the next three days, according to the organizers.

The Great Ethiopian Run was established by some well know Ethiopian athletes.

The event will be aired live on international sports TV channels, and proceeds from the Great Run will be used for charity.

Some $50,000 is expected to be raised during the run.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wanjiru main attraction in Chicago Marathon

Olympic champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru will be the main attraction at the 32nd edition of the Chicago Marathon this Sunday. The race will be broadcast on a delayed basis on SuperSport 6 from 7pm Kenyan time.

With 11 Africans – eight Kenyans, two Moroccans and an Ethiopian – on the elite list, the men’s race will be a purely African affair in the dash for the top prize with Wanjiru leading the way.

Currently topping the 2008/09 World Marathon Majors standings with 65 points, a win or even second-place finish will guarantee the 23-year-old his first WMM overall position, which comes with a $500,000 (Sh37.7 million) cash prize.

Wanjiru will also make an attempt to break the world record or at least better his personal best time after missing out on last month’s World Championship in Berlin, Germany.

“My plan is to lower my personal record and the Chicago course offers the best opportunity for me to achieve that this year,” he said.

The world half marathon record holder has had impressive performances since changing disciplines. He has run four marathons, posting two sub-2:06 and two sub-2:07 finishes. His 2:06:32 winning time in Beijing is considered among the most impressive in distance running.

Wanjiru will certainly feel at home with loads of Kenyan company, led by 21-year-old Vincent Kipruto, who won the Paris Marathon earlier this year in 2:05:47 and is touted as one of the brightest prospects in marathon running.

The 2001 World 5,000m champion, Richard Limo, and Wesley Korir, who was fourth in Chicago last year, will be running in Chicago for a fifth time, as will Isaac Macharia, Charles Munyeki and Benjamin Maiyo. Veteran Boaz Cheboiywo will complete the strong Kenyan contingent.

The Kenyans’ opposition will emanate from familiar quarters, with Morocco’s two-time London Marathon runner-up Abderrahim Goumri providing the stiffest challenge. Ethiopia’s Tadese Tola, also debuting in Chicago, has strong half marathon credentials.

The pacemakers are solely from Kenya – 2007 winner Patrick Ivuti, Gilbert Chepkwony, Wilson Kebenei and Mathew Koech.

The Ethiopian duo of Elfenesh Alemu and Teyba Erkesso will lead the African charge in the women’s race, which will have WMM winner Irina Mikitenko, reigning Chicago queen Lydia Grigoryeva and local favourite Deena Kastor.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Murder-suicide claims Ethiopian runner's parents, sister

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - The brother in-law of prominent Ethiopian distance runner Leila Aman shot and killed Aman’s parents and sister on Monday during an apparent domestic dispute in the town of Assela, located about 175 kilometers of the country’s capital Addis Ababa, according to sources close to the family.

The sources said the incident took place in the home of Leila’s father Aman Tola following an altercation between Leila Aman’s youngster sister Zeyni and her husband of two years. They said the husband, whose name was not provided, was a police officer deployed in the nearby Bale district. The sources said he shot his wife and her parents with a rifle at around 8 p.m. and then killed himself. Zeyni Aman and her mother died before paramedics arrived on the scene. Tola died on the way to hospital.

“It is a really shocking incident and we are all disturbed,” said Kassim Adilo, a cousin of Leila Aman and husband to 2009 Houston Marathon women’s champion Teyiba Erkesso.

Arsi District police did not comment when asked about the incident.

Leila Aman, 31, ran a personal best 2:27:54 and finished fifth at the 2004 Berlin marathon. She was second in the 2003 Abebe Bikila International Marathon, one of only two marathons held annually in Ethiopia.

Leila Aman was unavailable to comment. She trains with a group of Ethiopian runners based in Addis Ababa and is coached by Hadji Adilo, who manages the Ethiopian operations of agent Hussein Makke. The Adilo family comprises one of Ethiopia’s largest running dynasties.

“Many of us [the training group] were in Addis to prepare for our marathons and it would really be difficult for us to get through this,” said Kassim Adilo, who won the 2008 Eurasia marathon and has run a personal best 2:10:20.

Erkesso is scheduled to run in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11 and Adilo plans to run the Istanbul marathon on October 18.