BIG MONEY, FAST ATHLETES ON THE LINE FOR SUNDAY'S PARIS MARATHON
By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
Sunday's Paris Marathon, the fifth-largest in the world in 2008 in
terms of finishers, features a sizable prize money purse and top
athletes, including several promising debutants at the distance. Race
winners will earn 50,000 euros as long as they run sufficiently fast
Athletes from Kenya are set to dominate the men's race, including 2008
Bank of America Chicago Marathon runner-up David Kipkorir Mandago
(2:07:23 PB). His key rivals will be compatriots Boniface Usisivu
(2:07:50), David Kiyeng (2:07:53), Shadrack Kiplagat (2:07:53), and
Philip Singoei (2:07:57). But the man who will wear #1 will be
Frenchman Driss El Himer, who owns the fastest marathon time in the
field: 2:06:48. However, El Himer, seven times the French national
cross country champion, hasn't run that fast since 2003. His best time
in the last two years was 2:12:08 set at Rotterdam last year.
Interestingly, two very strong men will be making their marathon
debuts. Rwanda's best distance runner, Dieudonné Disi, should be a
contender for the podium. Sixth at last year's IAAF World
Half-Marathon Championships, Disi has a half-marathon personal best of
59:32. Working as a pacemaker at last year's Flora London Marathon,
Disi made it to 27 km, rolling along comfortably at a 2:05 marathon
pace. Kenyan Francis Kibiwott, who has a half-marathon best of 59:26,
is also running his first marathon.
On the women's side, last year's Paris runner-up, Worknesh Tola of
Ethiopia, is the top seasoned marathoner with a 2:25:37 career best.
She should get her best challenge from Japan-based Kenyan Julia Mombi,
who's 2:26:00 marathon personal best may seem relatively modest, but
she's run a very fast 1:08:31 for half that distance. Ethiopian
Eyerusalem Kuma (2:26:51), Russian Natalya Volgina (2:27:32) and
Frenchwoman Christelle Daunay (2:28:22 NR) are the other top athletes.
One debutante, however, could surpass all of these women. Ethiopian
Aselefech Mergia, second at the recent RAK Half-Marathon in the United
Arab Emirates last February, has a half-marathon best of 1:07:48.
Moreover, she was the 2008 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships
The Paris race has an unusual prize money structure. In order for the
athletes to receive the full prize money available for each of the
top-10 finish places, men must break 2:11:45 and women must break
2:23:15. At the 2008 edition of the race, 16 men broke the required
standard, and all collected the full prize money. However, no women
broke the required female standard and saw their prize money cut in
half. The first place award is 50,000 euros (about USD 66,500), with
30,000 going for second and 20,000 going to third.
Helping the athletes to collect full paydays will be the fast and
scenic one-loop course which begins and ends near the Arc de Triomphe
and takes in many of the city's key landmarks: the Louvre, Place de la
Bastille, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Eiffel Tower. The course
records are 2:06:33 by Kenyan Mike Rotich in 2003, and 2:23:05 by
Belgian Marleen Renders in 2002. In the history of the race there have
been nine male performances under 2:08 and four women's marks under
NOTE: The five largest marathons in the world in 2008 in terms
of finishers were: 1. ING New York City, 38,096; 2. real,-Berlin,
35,786; 3. Flora London, 34,417; 4. Bank of America Chicago, 31,401;
and Paris, 28,846 --Ed.