A strong field s expected at the 35th Zurich Maratón de Sevilla on Sunday

The Zurich Maratón de Sevilla is one of the flattest courses worldwide and the new circuit is just as flat and fast.

The large Ethiopian contingent includes Belay Afesa, holder of a 2:07:10 lifetime best set in Hamburg five years ago, sub-2:10 runners Seboka Nigusse (2:09:14) and Ayana Tsedat (2:09:26) and sub-11 men Melaku Bechalew (2:10:31) and Regasa Mindaye (2:10:51).

Meanwhile, the Kenyan challenge will be led by Samuel Kiplimo Kosgei, whose 2:06:53 career best dates back to 2016. More recently, he ran 2:09:07 last October in Gyeongju. Another contender is Jonah Chesum, winner of the 2017 Barcelona marathon with a lifetime best of 2:08:57. He last raced in October's Lisbon Marathon clocking 2:10:08.

Eritrea’s Yohanes Gebregergish boasts a 2:08:14 career best from the 2017 Tokyo Marathon. He clocked 2:11:27 in Valencia in December, his last outing. His countryman Okubay Tsegay will be the designated pacemaker chargeed with leading the main group to the 30 kilometre checkpoint. The scheduled split for the half is 1:03:30, well inside the pace required to challenge the 2:07:43 course record set by Kenyan Titus Ekiru two years ago. 

Likewise, the women's race is wide open.

Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan, who arrives on the heels of a 1:07:36 half marathon personal best set in Copenhagen in September, is among the athletes to beat. The 23-year-old will be aiming to improve on her personal best of 2:25:45 set in 2017. Guteni Shone is the quickest woman in Sunday’s line-up thanks to a 2:23:32 outing in Houston in 2015, though she was far from that in her last appearance, a 2:31:41 effort in Lisbon last October.

Other Ethiopians include Aynalem Kassahun (PB 2:28:18) and Meskerem Abera (2:28:35). Kenya will be represented by Susan Jeptoo who set her 2:30:50 best in Prague last year.

European hopes rest on two debutants: Sweden’s 2014 European 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Charlotta Fougberg, who has a 1:11:58 half marathon best to her credit, and 24-year-old Dutchwoman Jip Vastenburg, who clocked 1:11:04 for the half marathon in Valencia in 2017. 

The 2:25:35 course record was set last year by Moroccan Kaoutar Boulaidran, who has struggled with injury since. Still on the mend, she won’t be back to defend her title.

posted Friday February 15th