Reigning champion Dejene Debela of Ethiopia will face stiff opposition at the 17th edition of Xiamen Marathon, the first IAAF Gold Label road race of 2019, on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Debela, whose personal best of 2:07:10 was set in 2017 when he was fourth at the Eindhoven Marathon, led an Ethiopian top-three finish last year in Xiamen where he pulled away in the final kilometre to take his first marathon title in 2:11:22.
Because of the heavy rain that dogged him from almost gun to finish, Debele’s winning mark in the southern Chinese city was the slowest in 11 years, more than five minutes shy of the 2:06:19 course record set by Moses Mosop in 2015, which has stood as China’s all-comers’ record since.
This time Debela will be running in better conditions as the forecast calls for a cloudy day with temperature ranging from 14-18 C. But his title defence will not be easy as he faces a strong field that includes three sub-2:06 runners.
Eliud Kiptanui of Kenya is the fastest man in the field. He clocked a PB of 2:05:21 to finish second at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. Last year, the 29-year-old produced a season’s best of 2:08:20 to finish fifth in Paris.
Bazu Worku, 28, is the second fastest entrant with his career best of 2:05:25 dating back to 2010. The experienced Ethiopian has remained in solid form in recent years, collecting his third Houston Marathon title in 2:08:30 12 months ago. It will be Worku’s first race in China since his marathon debut in 2009.
Kenya’s Peter Kimeli Some is another man to watch. The 28-year-old registered his PB of 2:05:38 to win the 2013 Paris Marathon and he came close to that mark when finishing third at the Daegu Marathon in 2:06:49 last April, the second fastest time of his career.
Read more at: IAAF.org