Limo, Kipchumba and Kiplagat favourites in Mersin
Course records will be targeted at the Mersin Marathon on Sunday with the forecast predicting temperatures to hover around 16 C throughout the flat and fast course in the Turkish Mediterranean city.
Organisers are hoping that the men’s record of 2:11:21 set by Moroccan Hassane Ahouchar last year could be challenged by a solid field that includes Kenyans Kenneth Kiplagat Limo and Hillary Kipchumba and Evans Kiplagat of Azerbaijan.
Limo ran 2:10:24 in Madrid earlier this year while finishing second in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. The 28-year-old’s last international marathon victory was in 2016 in Dongguan, China, where he beat Kipchumba into second place. He’ll be aiming to repeat that on Sunday.
Kipchumba set his 2:08:23 lifetime best in Gyeongju, Korea in 2016. The Mersin Marathon will be his 15th over the distance, so he’ll bring plenty of experience to the start line.
Kiplagat will be another experienced runner lining up on Sunday, arriving with a winning reputation on Turkish soil. Kiplagat won the Istanbul Marathon in 2016 and has a personal best of 2:07:46 set in 2014.
The favourites might be surprised by the 20-year-old marathon debutant Demeke Kasaw, the youngest man in the field, who has 1:01:43 half marathon credentials from last year.
Others to watch include Moses Too, the runner-up in Mersin last year, and Andrey Petrov of Uzbekistan, the marathon silver medallist at the 2017 Asian Championships.
On the women’s side, expect an Ethiopia vs Kenya battle. With her career best of 2:28:11, Ethiopian Konjit Tilahun is one of the favourites along with compatriot Chaltu Dida, the winner at both the Tours and Toulouse marathons this year.
Kenyan Gladys Yator, a 1:08:39 half marathoner, is expected to be a factor. She ran 2:34:46 in the Marrakesh Marathon in January, the second marathon of her career. Gladys Chemweno has a PB of 2:30:30 from 2016 set when winning the Krakow Marathon. Nancy Jelagat, who finished second at the Hamburg Half Marathon with 1:10:18 this year, completes the Kenyan squad.
The women’s course record stands at 2:28:47, set by Kenya’s Truphena Chirchir last year.
Mersin, the tenth largest city in Turkey, is expecting to gather more than 100,000 participants in a 5km run which will start after the marathon.