Kenyans Masai and Jepkosgei aiming for Karlovy Vary half-marathon honours

web_photo_Joyciline Jepkosgei_19052017

Joyciline Jepkosgei at the finish line at the Halbmaraton in Prague on 1 April 2017.

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic  – Race records will be the targets at the fifth edition of the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in the Czech Republic on Saturday, with Kenya’s Gilbert Masai and Joyciline Jepkosgei aiming for top honours.

The men’s field boasts four runners with personal bests faster than the race record of 1 hour: 01minute: 01second, which Elijah Tirop set in 2015. Of those one, Masai, has sub-60 minute credentials.

Masai, 35, has broken one hour on three occasions, most recently in Berlin on April 2, winning in 59:17. His set his lifetime best of 59:31 in Copenhagen in September 2016.

Meanwhile, Shadrack Korir, 21, brings recent consistency to the west Bohemian spa town. He opened the year by clocking 1:00:07 for seventh in Ras Al Khaimah in February. More recently he recorded 1:01:17 in Yangzhou, finishing fifth.

Their compatriot, Mark Korir, 32, is also expected to contend for a top finish. With a 2:05:49 lifetime best from 2015 in the marathon –and more recently, a 2:06:05 run for third in Seoul, Korir brings stronger credentials over the full marathon to the start line. However, with a 1:00.48 personal best, he can’t be ruled out.

Eritrea’s Dawit Weldesilasie, 22, could also be a factor, but he’ll have to regain his form from two years ago, when he produced his 1:00:26 best.

The women’s record of 1:09:07 was set last year by Joyciline Jepkosgei in her international debut. Less than one year later, the Kenyan, 23, who races on the RunCzech team, went on to become the first woman to crack the 65-minute barrier with her 1:04:52 performance in Prague. Jepkosgei broke four world records in that historic run in the Czech capital on April 1, smashing the 10km, 15km and 20km marks en route to her half marathon victory.

Organisers hope that Kenyans Mercy Kibarus and Yvonne Jelagat, who boast performances faster than Jepkosgei’s 2016 run, can set out to make the race record assault a strong possibility.

Kibarus, 33, is the most experienced of the three. She has a 1:08:18 lifetime best from 2013, finished a creditable fifth at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon championships, and more recently, improved her marathon best to 2:26:52 in Seoul in March.

Yvone Jelagat, a relative newcomer on the international scene, made notable progress in the Prague race, where she clocked a lifetime best of 1:09:04 to finish seventh, with a 31:46 10km time en route, also a personal best.

In all, 4000 runners are expected to take part.

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