The RAK women’s race will be as sensational as last year, being one of the world's fastest half marathons
The 2017 champion Peres Jepchirchir, in a then world record of 1:05:06, returns from becoming a mother, and while she may struggle to match the dramatic consistency of her 2016 racing year and the subsequent world record in Ras Al Khaimah, there is justifiable excitement about her return.
Equally keenly anticipated, is the appearance of reigning world half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia, whose win in Valencia last March not only gave her global gold but was a world record for a women’s-only race. She also won all three of her half marathon in 2018, and her remarkable consistency over the last four years, suggests there is more to come.
In the field as well is UAE’s own Alia Mohammed Saeed, who’s best time of 1:06:13 came in her debut and her only half marathon in Valencia last October. She was a close runner-up there and her three 10k road wins out of three last year, suggest her competitive instincts are finely honed.
Trying to stop her, from her former home in Ethiopia and only 20 last June, Zeineba Yimer ran five half marathons in 2018, each of them of high quality, and they included a fine fifth place at the world championships in March (1:08:07), followed by a brace of much quicker runs in September’s Copenhagen race (1:06:21 pb) and New Delhi (1:06:59).
Not having raced since that latter outing in October, should see her in fresh and ready-to-race. Throw in Degitu Azimeraw who also has just one half marathon to her name, and the challenge is clear. The winner of her first international race in Kolkata, a 25km just over a year ago, she was sixth in Ras Al Khaimah last year, her one and only half marathon ever, in a fine 1:06:47, to place just outside the world top ten for the year.
The race, traditionally one of the world's fastest half marathons, is this year to be staged partially on the brand-new man-made Al Marjan Island complex, possibly an even faster circuit than in previous years.
posted Wednesday January 30th