Kenya’s long-distance runners will be out to silence their Ethiopian counterparts when the Rome Marathon goes down on Sunday.
Cheboit Silas - who clocked 2 hours, 07 minutes and 15 seconds in in Gyeong - South Korea in 2014, Ezekiel Omullo, who ran 2:09:19 in Warsaw in 2015 and Robert Kipkemboi Kiplimo, who won the Padua Marathon in 2015 in 2:09:32 are in the start list.
It’s left to be known whether the Kenyans will halt Ethiopia’s dominance which stretches back since the days of Abebe Bikila’s legendary Olympic title run in 1960. Ethiopian men have won the last three editions with their women claiming the last two editions.
Luka Kanda is the last Kenyan to win in 2012 while Helena Kirop won the women’s race in 2013.
Ethiopian Tariku Jufar is the second fastest man in the field at 2:06:51, set in his 2012 victory in Houston. The 31-year-old also won the Beijing Marathon in 2012 and has notched top-three finishes in Istanbul, Mumbai, Los Angeles, Lake Biwa and Hamburg.
Jufar will take on last year’s Rome Marathon winner Abebe Negewo Degefa, who clocked a personal best of 2:08:46 in Beijing 2013; Debebe Tolossa, who set his PB of 2:07:41 in Houston in 2012; and Adhana Gebretsadik, who has a best of 2:08:35.
Morocco will be represented by Rachid Kisri, who clocked 2:06:48 in Paris in 2009, and is the fastest man in the field.
The favourite in the women’s race is Kenya's Emily Chemutai Ngetich, who registered her 2:25:14 personal best at the Frankfurt Marathon in 2014.
She will take on an Ethiopian trio led by Mulu Diro (PB 2:29:10), Metaferiya Zeneba (PB 2:30:08) and Adhana Desalegn (PB 2:31:25). Another notable entry is Julia Andreeva, from Kyrgyzstan, with a best of 2:30:57.