Strong fields in both the men’s and women’s races will be targeting fast times at the Copenhagen Half Marathon on Sunday 16th September.
The men’s field includes 14 runners with sub-one hour credentials, among them Abraham Cheroben of Bahrain and Jorum Okombo of Kenya, last year’s winner and runner-up.
Cheroben clocked 58:40 at the CPH Half one year ago to claim the No. 3 spot on the all-time list. Okombo clocked 58:48, elevating him into a tie for the No. 8 spot all-time. Both have indicated that they’ve returned to better those personal bests.
They’ll face Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, at 59:00 this year’s third fastest over the distance. Also notable is the inclusion of another Ethiopian, 3000 and 5000m specialist Yomif Kejelcha, who arrives on the heals of his impressive 5000m run in the Diamond League final in Brussels where he clocked 12.46.79 to become the seventh fastest ever over that distance on the track.
“Kejelcha may not be the number one favourite for the win, but he will be very exciting to follow. He is a debutant and the type of runner who could really steam ahead from the very beginning. The others will just have to try and keep up. In fact, I would not be surprised to see him nearing the 10 kilometres world record, and from then on, we will have to wait and see how long he can last,” says Henrik Paulsen, competition director of the CPH Half
Okombo at last year’s CPH Half, where he placed second.
Melly on a world record assault
The women’s field is extremely competitive boasting five runners with sub-1:08 lifetime bests. The standout however is Kenyan Joan Melly, last year’s runner up. This season she’s proven herself to be one of the world’s best half marathon runners, improving her personal best to an impressive 1:05:04 in Prague last April, 14 seconds shy of the world record set by Joycilene Jepkosgei at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March. She’s announced that the world record will be her target on Sunday.
Her toughest challenge should come from Kenyans Ruth Chepngetich and Mary Wacera and Ababel Yeshaneh Brihane of Ethiopia, who all arrive armed with sub-1:06:30 personal bests. Chepngetich brings experience, too, with half marathon victories in Milan, Istanbul and Paris to her credit. Earlier this year, she was second at the Paris Marathon.
“Melly is bringing her own pacer and we are providing one for Chepngetich, as it became clear that she wants to target the world-record. This means that the two women can use the pull of at least two men to their advantage, relying on them to pace them to the finish line, while at the same time pushing each other. So, we are in for a very interesting comptetition for the win but probably also for the world record”, says Henrik Paulsen.
Besides the big favourites, it will also be interesting see how Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan fares. In the track in 2018 she raced to the European 5000m title and victory in the Continental Cup 3000m last weekend with a world-leading 8:27.50.
“Sifan’s case is one similar to the men’s Kejelcha: she does not know the distance and might steam ahead from the very start and I am quite positive that she has the capability to threaten the 10 kilometres world record’, says Henrik Paulsen.