Defending Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon champions Melaku Belachew and Gulume Tollesa are aiming to win back-to-back titles at the IAAF Gold Label road race on Sunday (21).
The Ethiopian duo were unexpected winners in close races 12 months ago, but on Sunday they will line up for the race with the added weight of expectation.
Although the race isn’t known for producing fast times, Belachew set a personal best and race record of 2:10:31 last year after running negative splits. But, based on PBs, the 27-year-old is still one of the slowest in the field.
Madrid Marathon winner Bonsa Dida of Ethiopia and Uganda’s 2011 world U20 cross-country silver medallist Thomas Ayeko, both relative newcomers to the marathon, are also in the field.
The top four finishers from last year’s race will meet again on Sunday, but the Ethiopian quartet will be challenged by a strong Kenyan.
Tollesa won the 2017 Hong Kong title in 2:33:39 with just 17 seconds separating her from compatriots Aberu Mekuria, Betelhem Moges and 2016 winner Letebrhan Haylay. Tollesa went on to clock 2:23:59 at the Shanghai Marathon towards the end of 2017, coming within 47 seconds of the PB she wet when winning the 2015 Frankfurt Marathon.
Mekuria, Moges and Haylay all have PBs within the 2:24 to 2:25 range, while 2:23:33 performer and Gold Coast Marathon winner Abebech Afework adds further strength to the Ethiopian contingent.
Ethiopians Fantu Jimma Eticha, Meseret Legesse Regassa and Askale Alemaheyu are also in the field.
Read original article at: IAAF.org