All eyes are on Vincent Kipruto.
By Wim van Hemert
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
ROTTERDAM (08-Apr) — The organizers of the 31st edition of the ABN AMRO Marathon Rotterdam, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, do not want to take any chances with Sunday’s event. As a precaution, for a new world record they insured the amount of USD 350,000 the winner will get in case of bettering Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:03:59 from Berlin in 2008.
The expectations in this Dutch harbor town, which had the fastest marathon times of the last two years, are very high. The weather forecast for Sunday is excellent. A temperature of 12-14 degrees Celsius at the start at 11:00 a.m., sunny with very light winds. There will be starting four sub-2:06:00 athletes plus three who have a personal best of sub 2:07:00. At the pre-race press conference yesterday they were called the “Magnificent Seven.” The fastest man in the group is Kenyan Vincent Kipruto, who finished third last year in Rotterdam with a time of 2:05:13. Also coming back to the very fast, flat Rotterdam course is Ethiopian Feyisa Lelisa, last year’s #4 finisher with a personal best of 2:05:23. The other two who have run the 42.195 km race inside 2:06:00 are Eliud Kiptanui of Kenya (2:05:39 PB, winner last year in Prague) and Ethiopian Getu Feleke (2:05:44 PB, winner last year in Amsterdam).
“Last year, when Patrick Makau won in 2:04:48, we lost the world record between 20 and 30 kilometers,” race director Mario Kadiks told reporters yesterday. During the press conference, organizers could not yet present all of then strong contenders as some of them were delayed in arriving due visa problems. The expectation was, however, that they will arrive in time for the race. The “Magnificent Seven” are counting on strong pacemaking by Kenyans Peter Kirui, Eric Ndiema and Sammy Kitwara.
“We will go out with a much smaller fast group than last year,” Kadiks said. “Six pacemakers and the seven fastest men.”
Eliud Kiptanui, who won the Prague marathon last year, said, “I am well prepared. I hope to improve my Prague personal best of 2:05:39. I had a test in Dubai earlier this year doing 30 kilometers. I was feeling very well and felt there I will be able for a 2:04:00 time. Already from the time I was a kid I am and great admirer of Haile Gebrselassie. I want to run very close to his best time. Here I will run my own race.”
The fastest man in the race, Vincent Kipruto, clocked his personal best of 2:05:13 in Rotterdam last year. The 23-year old had a problem in that race which cost him significant time: the inner sole in one of his running shoes was curled up and he had to stop to remove it.
“I have great plans for Sunday,” he said.
The fastest woman in the race is Kenyan Rita Jeptoo with a personal best of 2:23:28. Dutchwoman Hilda Kibet is the third fastest on the women’s starting list with a personal best of 2:26:23. A very dangerous outsider is Kenyan Philes Ongori who is running her first marathon. She recently ran 1:08:32 at the Semi-Marathon de Paris.