Meseret to make her marathon debut

  • Kenenisa up against Mo Farah

Long-distance runner and two-time Olympic Champion Meseret Defar will run her first marathon race at the Tokyo Marathon on February 25 while Kenenisa Bekele will face Mo Farah and Eilud Kipchoge at this year’s London Marathon.

The 34-year-old Meseret – two-time Olympic 5,000-meters winner and four-time world indoor 3,000-meters champion – spent the past few years making a gradual transition to the road.

The world athletics governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) unveiled on January 22 that marathon debutante Meseret is among the Tokyo Marathon entries list. Meseret has been one of the top female Ethiopian athletes in various distances, mainly 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters in international races. She has won in top athletics competitions in 5,000 meters.

In 2007, she became the first woman to complete a 2-mile run under 9 minutes (8:58:58). This was an 11-second improvement on the world record.  She made her half marathon debut at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, winning in a time of 1:07:44. This excelled Berhane Adere’s fastest time on American soil for the distance, and was the fifth fastest debut ever.

According to IAAF, Meseret will line up against compatriots Ruti Aga who finished at the 2017 Berlin Marathon in a personal best (PB) of 2:20:41 and won the recent Houston Half Marathon in a PB of 1:06:39, and Shure Demise, whose 2:20:59 performance at the Dubai Marathon is the fastest performance ever by an U20 athlete.

Meseret took a break from competition in 2014 in order to start a family and she promised to return by 2015. Now she will be back with new enthusiasm and vigor.

Meanwhile, Kenyan 2015 world silver medalist and Tokyo champion Helah Kiprop and Paris Marathon champion Purity Rionoripo are also set to compete.

Elsewhere, one of the greatest long-distance runners of all time, Kenenisa Bekele, will be up against Mo Farah and Kenyan Eluid Kipchoge on the first line for the IAAF Gold Label road race on April 22nd.

Kenenisa started his marathon career at the 2014 Paris Marathon.  He won the 2016 Berlin Marathon in 2:03:03, setting a new personal best and the second fastest marathon time ever.  He finished second at the 2017 London Marathon with 2:05:57 behind Daneil Wanjiru.

London will be a tough race for Kenenisa as rivals Mo Farah and Kipchoge will also be in the line-up.

Mo won 10,000m event and came to in the 2nd 5000m event after Ethiopian Muktar Edris.  Farah won his final track event in Diamond League, in Birmingham and Zurick. He is not new to road races. He run in 2014 for the first time in London Marathon and finished eighth in 2:08:21.

Meanwhile, Kenyan long-distance runner Kipchoge, also known as “the greatest marathoner of the modern era,” is expected to be a formidable opponent.  Since he started road race in 2013 at the Hamburg Marathon, he only finished second at the Berlin Marathon in 2013, finishing in 2:04:05 behind Wilson Kipsang. He recently won the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2017.

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