Bedan Karoki and Eunice Kirwa, both past winners of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, will return to defend their titles this weekend
Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Also known as the ‘Naoko Takahashi Cup’ as it is held in the home town of the 2000 Olympic marathon champion, the men’s course record of 1:00:02 was set by Karoki when he won in 2014, while the women’s course record of 1:07:44 was set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.
Karoki, world ranked No.13 in road running, will be aiming to become just the second two-time men’s champion in Gifu. Since his last run in Gifu, Karoki earned world silver medals at cross-country in 2015 and at the half marathon in 2016.
He also improved his half marathon PB to 58:42 in 2018 and earlier this year clocked a marathon best of 2:06:48 to finish second in Tokyo.
His main challengers are Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay, who has a best of 59:21, Abraham Kipyatich, world ranked No.79, and Uganda’s Abdallah Mande, world ranked No.30. Tsegay’s best was recorded back in 2014, but Kipyatich and Mande both set PBs at various distances in 2018 so will likely be bigger threats to Karoki.
Yuki Kawauchi, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, is the most famous Japanese runner in the field, but national half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara is the fastest of the domestic entrants. Shitara’s half marathon best is 60:17 recorded in 2017.
Two time Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon champion Eunice Kirwa Jepkirui leads the loaded women’s field. The Olympic marathon silver medallist set an Asian half marathon record of 1:06:46 in Istanbul in 2017 in what was her last race over the distance.
The 2015 world bronze medallist didn’t race at all in 2018, though, and she may need to be at her best if she hopes to win her third title in Gifu.
Joan Melly Chelimo, world ranked No.3 in road running, has the fastest PB of the field. The Kenyan clocked 1:05:04 in Prague last year, making her the fourth-fastest woman in history for the distance.
Ruth Chepngetich, world ranked No.1 in the marathon, heads to Gifu in the form of her life. She won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, the third-fastest time in history, and followed it with half marathon performances of 1:06:09 and 1:05:29.
World marathon champion Rose Chelimo will be aiming to improve on her PB of 1:08:08, while Ana Dulce Felix, Mimi Belete and Gotytom Gebreslase are also in the field.
posted Friday April 26th
by Ken Nakamura