The marathon course has been altered to speed things up.
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This Sunday in the Netherlands, a sub-2:05 marathon performance is hoped for at the De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven. Organizers, including race director Peer Pulles, strongly believe the race’s new course and strong field could result in a 2:04 clocking at the event.
“Our target is to improve the course record again, for the third consecutive year,” Pulles said in a statement last month.
In 2012, Dickson Chumba won the race’s 29th edition in 2:05:46, the ninth-fastest mark on a record standard-course in the world. Since then, the race has undergone some changes in order to enhance the opportunity of a faster time.
“We have made further modifications to the course, especially in the closing stages of the race, and taken out eight corners,” described Pulles. “In some parts of the course, the elite runners will be able to see two to three kilometers straight ahead of them, and we have not lost any of the local scenery and landmarks that makes the race so attractive to other participants.”
In a September press release, race organizers described the removal of certain turns to aid fast times and make the course more spectator friendly. Additionally, the finish of this year’s race has been moved to Vestdijk Street in the center of Eindhoven.
While fast times are expected, no concrete pacing assignments have been given just yet. Pulles expects pacemakers to go through halfway between 62:30 and 62:40. If done correctly, that could result in a new event record.
Pulles also noted that among the 23 elite athletes competing, half should be together at halfway, setting up for an exciting, fast finish.
“I would hope that a few of those would then be able to come through in the second half of the race and produce a really fast time,” he said. “Dickson last year ran a great negative split after the leaders went through halfway in 62:57; he was on course for running under 2:05 at 40km (reached in 1:58:39) but tired over the final two kilometers.”
Among those expected to battle it out over the final stretch are Ethiopians Yemane Tsegay and Bazu Worku. Tsegay is the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon champion, and is coming off an eighth place finish at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Moscow. His personal best of 2:04:28 is the fastest in the field.
Worku has had a very productive marathon season this year. In January he won the Chevron Houston Marathon in 2:10:17, then six months later took the top spot at the Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota, timing 2:11:14. His personal best sits at 2:05:25.
Kenya’s Nathaniel Kipkosgei will join Tsegay and Worku on the start line, returning to the scene of his surprising marathon debut. In the 2011 De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven, Kipkosgei was hired to set the pace, but with the permission of organizers finished the contest in second place, timing 2:06:28.
“In addition to the seven runners who have already gone under 2:08 in their careers, there will be some talented marathon debutants from Ethiopia and Kenya. Although they are not well known names, it’s very possible that some of them could make a big break through,” Pulles said.
According to Pulles’s Twitter account, the race is also offering a €250,000 bonus if an athlete sets a new marathon world record. That mark is the recently-run 2:03:23 by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang.