Gold medalists set to go head-to-head in Europe’s most competitive road race.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
PALERMO — Two of distance running’s finest champions, Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, will face off at the Giro Podistico Internazionale de Castelbuono next Monday, organizers announced at a press conference on Wednesday. The event, Europe’s oldest competitive road race, will be held for the 85th time despite the financial crisis in Palermo which organizers said made staging this year’s contest a strain on the local government.
Wanjiru, who won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing and announced last week he will be running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach half marathon in September, will be making his first competitive appearance since failing to finish the Virgin London Marathon on April 25. There, the 23 year-old athlete was bothered by an injury to his right knee which forced him to drop out between 25 and 30 kilometers. Wanjiru was the defending London champion, clocking a course record 2:05:10 in 2009.
Tadese, 28, has won the gold medal at the IAAF World Road Running/Half Marathon Championships for four consecutive years. He got his first victory over 20K in Debrecen in 2006, duplicating the same result over the half marathon distance in Undine in 2007, Rio di Janeiro in 2008 and Birmingham, England, in 2009. Further proving that he is truly the master of the half marathon distance, Tadese ran a spectacular 58:23 IAAF-ratified world record at the Meia-Maratona Internacional de Lisboa last March, also setting an IAAF world record at 20K en route (55:21).
This will be the first appearance for both athletes at the race in Castelbuono, and they should find it challenging. The race is held on a 1130-meter loop, with one hill, which the athletes will complete ten times. The course record is 33:46 by Kenyan Martin Lel in 2004.