Strong male quartet prepares for chasing the world record.
With the World Athletics Championships over and less than one month to race day, the CPH Half elite field is now in place.
The male and female elite fields are stronger than ever, and a new world record in the men’s race is within scope as well as a competitive and fast women’s race.
The quest for the world record
A strong quartet will be chasing the current world record of 58.23 minutes.
The four athletes are last year’s winner James Mwangi Wangari, last year’s silver medallist Stephen Kosgei, Yigrem Demelash Endale, who has run 59.19 minutes over the half marathon this year, and Leonard Barsoton, who finished second at the World Cross Country Championships.
“It is difficult to pick the biggest favorite. We have never had as many sub 60 minutes pro athletes as we have this year – a total of 9 runners have done this. But these four stand out, and if they are able to push each other once the pacers drop out, the chance of a world record is definitely there,” says Henrik Paulsen, Sports Director at Sparta Athletics and Running and elite field responsible at the Copenhagen Half Marathon.
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Historic strong female field
On the female side, the elite field is larger than any previous years. There is however a strong trio that appears stronger than the rest, making a new race record seem very much within reach. The current record of 68.00 minutes was set last year by Hiwot Gebrekidan Gebremaryam, who, along with Mary Wacera Ngugi and Birgid Jepchirchir Kosgei, makes up the trio in quest for the race record.
“We have the strongest female elite field ever this year, and on top of that, we also have male pacers. So the possibility of really fast time is definitely there. We are not counting on a new female world record, but the settings and the elite field are provide ideal conditions for breaking the race record,” says Henrik Paulsen.
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Facts about the male favorites
James Mwangi Wangari, KEN
23 years old, Kenyan James Mwangi Wangari won the Copenhagen Half Marathon in 2016. Clocking a 27.15 10 km split and a 59.07 win, he not only improved the race record by 7 seconds, but also set the fastest 10km road race time that year and the 9th fastest ever. This year he has planned his entire season to target a second win at the CPH Half.
Stephen Kosgei Kibet, KEN
30 years of age, Stephen Kosgei Kibet has the fastest personal best within this year’s elite field. His half marathon PR is 58.54 on a Half Marathon, a time he achieved in 2012. That year he became number 5 at the World Half Marathon Championships. In 2016, he finished second at the Copenhagen Half Marathon in 59.28 minutes.
Yigrem Demelash Endale, ETH
The 23-year-old Yigrem Endale of Ethiopia has had an excellent year. Among his results in 2017 is a half marathon time of 59.19 minutes. Furthermore, he did an impressive 26.51,11 on the 10,000 metres last year, which makes him the only elite athlete at the CPH Half who has done a 10,000 m under 27 minutes.
Leonard Barsoton, KEN
Having competed mainly in cross country and track events, this 22-year-old Kenyan is a blank sheet when it comes to the half marathon distance. Earlier this year, however, he took second at the World Cross Country Championships – one of the most difficult races to win – just seconds behind the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships winner. Furthermore, he has done an impressive 7.52,33 over the 3,000 metres.
Facts about the female favourites
Hiwot Gebrekidan Gebremaryam, ETH
Hiwot Gebremaryam, a 22-year-old from Ethiopia and gold medallist at the 2016 Copenhagen Half Marathon, holds the current CPH Half race record of 68.00 minutes, which is also her personal best. This year she has improved her personal best over the marathon distance, which now stands at 2:25.45 hours.
Mary Wacera Ngugi, KEN
28-years-old Mary Ngugi from Kenya has an astonishing personal best of 66.29 minutes over the half marathon distance – the fastest time among this year’s top female athletes – set last year. This year she has also done an impressive 31.33 at a 10 km road race competition.
Birgid Jepchirchir Kosgei, KEN
23 years old and from Kenya, Bigrid Kosgei has registered merely 3 official race times – but they are quick. During this year she has clocked 67.35 at a half marathon and 32.02 on a 10 km. Last year she finished a marathon in 2:24.45 hours.