April 9, 2015
After a long winter (in some parts of the country), it’s that time of year again. The temperatures are rising, flowers are starting to bloom and in major cities across the world, extremely fit men and women are testing the limits of their bodies over 26.2 miles. It’s spring marathon season.
There’s no official start date for spring marathon season — some might argue it began on March 15 in Seoul, others last week in Daegu — but there’s no doubt that the season ends in April, the best month in marathoning. The Paris and Rotterdam Marathons are both scheduled for Sunday, and from there the countdown begins to the two crown jewels of spring marathons: Boston on April 20 and London on April 26. We’ll have in-depth previews of those marathons in the coming weeks, but our attention this weekend will be on Paris and Rotterdam.
Today, we break down the men’s races at the two marathons. Tomorrow, we’ll put up our women’s preview. We start with the men because the men’s races at both of these races are pretty loaded (the women’s races leave much more to be desired).
In Paris, there are 9 sub-2:07 guys in the field. For comparison’s sake, 2015 Boston has 10. Now we’re not trying to say the Paris field is equal to Boston’s as Boston’s is much better up top – Boston has 5 sub 2:05 guys, Paris has zero – but Paris is very deep and has lots of bodies. If you look at sub-2:08 guys, Paris has 13 to Boston’s 11.
And the Rotterdam field is much better that Paris, particularly up front. The Rotterdam field certainly is very close to being World Marathon Major worthy. In Rotterdam, there are four sub-2:05 guys and eight sub 2:07 guys in the race. For comparison’s sake, Boston has 5 sub-2:05 guys and 10 sub-2:07.
Anyway, here’s what to expect from the men in Rotterdam and Paris.
2015 Rotterdam Marathon: 4 Sub-2:05, 8 Sub-2:07 Guys Will Battle
Where: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
When: Sunday, April 12, 4:30 a.m. ET
How to watch: Live online stream here
Weather: High of 56, low of 43, 15 mph winds. Cloudy with 20% chance of rain.
2014 champ Eliud Kipchoge will not return after deciding to mix it up with the big boys in London later this month. But last year’s runner-up, Bernard Koech, will return as he searches for his first career marathon victory. That a guy with Koech’s PRs (58:41 half marathon — albeit on a non-legal course — and 2:04:53 marathon) hasn’t won a marathon yet shows you just how hard it is to win any marathon — not just a major — these days. And those weren’t just flash-in-the-pan performances. Look what he’s done over the past three years:
Debuted with a 63:03 half marathon (at 7,000+ feet of elevation in Kenya) in January. PR’d in the half three more times that year, going from 60:06 to 59:57 to 59:10 at the Lille Half Marathon in September.
Ran 2:04:53 in his debut marathon but had the misfortune of running in the first marathon in history where five guys broke 2:05:00, so he wound up 5th. Won Lisbon Half Marathon in 59:54 and ran 58:41 at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, putting him #3 on the all-conditions half marathon list (the elevation drop makes the time ineligible for record purposes). Finished 3rd at Amsterdam Marathon in 2:06:29.
Runs 59:46 at RAK Half in February; 2:06:08 gets him second at Rotterdam behind Kipchoge; wins Tilburg 10 Miles in 45:12; 5th in Chicago Marathon in 2:08:30.
Koech began 2015 by running 60:09 at the Marugame Half Marathon in Japan on February 1 (behind Paul Kuira and Zane Robertson) and takes a crack at career marathon #5 on Sunday. He’s certainly in with a chance but as one of four sub-2:05 men in the field, he might not even be the favorite.
The fastest man on paper, James Kwambai (2:04:27 pb set in this race in 2009), struggled in 2014 (6th in the Seoul spring marathon, 9th in the Seoul fall marathon, neither faster than 2:07:38). Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa is an all-or-nothing type. His last seven marathons have gone like this: 2:04:52 (2nd, ’12 Chicago), 2:07:46 (4th, ’13 London), DNF (’13 World Champs), DNF (’13 Frankfurt), 2:08:26 (9th, ’14 London), DNF (’14 Chicago), 2:06:35 (’15 Dubai). If he finishes in Rotterdam, he’s a threat to win.
There are four other men who have a decent shot on Sunday. All have run 2:06:18 or faster and enter in decent (or better) form:
- Jonathan Maiyo, Kenya, 26 years old. The fourth sub-2:05 man in the field, Maiyo was second in the Eindhoven Marathon in October (2:06:47) and a respectable third in the deep RAK Half field in February, running 60:08.
- Abera Kuma, Ethiopia, 24 years old. Kuma was the first of the mortals in the Berlin Marathon last year, taking third in 2:05:56 behind Dennis Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai, both of whom broke the old world record. That was almost a four-minute PR; if Kuma can PR again on Sunday he should contend for the win. He showed good fitness by running 61:07 at the RAF Half in February.
- Mark Kiptoo, Kenya, 38 years old. Kiptoo didn’t take up running until he was 27 and didn’t run a marathon until he was 37, but he’s proven himself with a runner-up finish in his debut in Frankfurt in 2013 and a victory in the same race last year. He was only eighth in The Hague City-Pier City Half Marathon in the Netherlands last month (62:21) but remember: Meb was the same age as Kiptoo is now when he won Boston last year.
- Gilbert Yegon, Kenya, 26 years old. Yegon put together two nice marathons last year (2:08:07 win in Dusseldorf; 2:07:08 for third in Frankfurt) but has yet to deliver on the promise of his 2:06:18 debut win in Amsterdam in 2009 (which remains his fastest marathon to date).
Canada’s Reid Coolsaet doesn’t have a chance to win. But his pb of 2:10:55 isn’t too far off the nearly 40-year old Canadian record of 2:10:09 by Jerome Drayton (Fukuoka 1975).
Full men’s elite field
|James Kwambai||Kenya||2:04:27||Only 2:11:31 for 9th in last marathon in Seoul in Nov.|
|Feyisa Lilesa||Ethiopia||2:04:52||’11 WC bronze medalist was 6th in Dubai in Jan. in 2:06:35|
|Bernard Koech||Kenya||2:04:53||2nd last year, 5th in Chicago; 60:09 at Marugame Half Marathon on Feb. 1|
|Jonathan Maiyo||Kenya||2:04:56||3rd at RAK Half in Feb. (60:08)|
|Abera Kuma||Ethiopia||2:05:56||3rd in Berlin last year|
|Mark Kiptoo||Kenya||2:06:16||38-year-old won Frankfurt Marathon last fall|
|Gilbert Yegon||Kenya||2:06:18||Won Dusseldorf last year; 3rd in Frankfurt|
|Mergersa Bacha||Ethiopia||2:06:56||Hasn’t run marathon since 2:06:56 4th-place showing in Paris in ’13|
|Tebalu Zawude||Ethiopia||2:07:10||4th in Frankfurt last year|
|Michel Butter||The Netherlands||2:09:58||Local favorite has finished just one marathon since start of ’13|
|Reid Coolsaet||Canada||2:10:55||Jerome Drayton’s Canadian record is 2:10:09 from 1975. 40 years later, is it time for Canada’s first sub-2:10?|
|Abdelhadi El Hachimi||Belgium||2:11:30|
|Abdi Nageeye||The Netherlands||2:11:33||Somalian-born athlete has already run 63:59 and 62:40 for the half in ’15|
|Willem van Schuerbeeck||The Netherlands||2:13:55|
|Pip Tesselaar||The Netherlands||2:21:39|
|Justus Kiptoo Kanda||Kenya||debut||17-year-old has run 61:18 half|
|Keith Gerrard||Great Britain||debut||63:39 half|
|Soufiane Bouchikhi||Belgium||debut||Former Eastern Kentucky runner has run 63:45 half|
|Waldir Ureta||Peru||debut||64:37 half|
|Daniel Da Silva||Brazil||debut||63:19 half|
|Gert-Jan Wassink||The Netherlands||debut||64:04 half|
LRC Prediction: We spent a lot of time talking about Koech for a reason. The guy deserves to win a big race but it’s hard to pick this one as the field is loaded.
2015 Paris Marathon: Moses Mosop Is Out But 13 Sub-2:08 Men Will Battle
Where: Paris, France
When: Sunday, April 12, 2:45 a.m. ET
How to watch: Live online at UniversalSports.com or on tape delay at 9:00 a.m. ET on Sunday on Universal Sports Network
Weather: High of 68, low of 48, 8mph winds. No precipitation.
Paris lacks star power — unlike last year, Kenenisa Bekele will not be running — but it makes up for that in depth, with nine men under 2:07 and four more under 2:08 plus debutant Pius Kiprop, who boasts a 59:25 half marathon pb.
Initially, 2:03:06 man/2011 Chicago champ Moses Mosop — who made a victorious return to the marathon by winning the Xiamen Marathon in 2:06:19 on January 3 — was announced as well but Paris organizers have confirmed to LetsRun.com that he has withdrawn due to injury.
Picking a winner is tough. The fastest guy on paper is Kenya’s Vincent Kipruto (2:05:13 pb). He won Paris in 2009, and also was second in Chicgao that year as well as second at Worlds in 2011. Five times broken 2:07. That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s only broken 2:07 once since April of 2011 and he was just 13th in his last marathon, running 2:12:09 on a fast Frankfurt course in October.
The second-fastest entrant, Ethiopia’s Deresse Chimsa. Though he is coming off a win at the Guangzhou Marathon in November, the time there was just 2:13:08 and he’s now 38 years old. Both of those men seem to be past their primes and we think therefore are unlikely to win.
After those two, there are several guys who could realistically win it. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more interesting names.
- Laban Korir, Kenya, 29 years old. His PR dates back to 2011 but he’s coming off a win at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October (2:08:15).
- Limenih Getachew, Ethiopia, 24 years old. He’s finished second in four of his five career marathons, including a 2:06:49 PR to finish as the runner-up in Paris last year.
- Mike Kigen, Kenya, 29 years old. Perhaps best known as the guy who may or may not have let Mo Farah win last year’s Great North Run, Kigen was 7th in Paris last year (2:10:59)and followed that up with a runner-up finish in Frankfurt in October (2:06:59). He’s got two encouraging half marathon results this year. He ran 61:12 in January and 60:14 for 5th at RAK Half in February.
- Silas Cheprot, Kenya, 23 years old. Ran 2:07:15 in debut to win Gongju Dong-A Marathon in South Korea last fall. He’s a huge unknown, but winning your debut marathon is always a good sign. Another win in Paris and he’ll be a hot commodity among the major marathons this fall.
- Vincent Chepkok, Kenya, 26 years old. The 2011 World Cross Country bronze medallist. Despite track pbs of 12:51 and 26:51, he switched to the roads last year and ran 2:13:21 in his debut marathon in Frankfurt. Shiny personal bests on the track don’t always translate to the marathon, and his half pb is ‘only’ 60:53, but he’s by far the most accomplished track runner in this field.
- Pius Kiprop, Kenya, 25 years old. He had a huge 2012 (59:25 half pb in Berlin; 4th at World Half Marathon Champs) but only raced once in all of 2014 (63:06 for 13th in the Luanda Half Marathon in September).
Full men’s elite field
|Vincent Kipruto||Kenya||2:05:13||’09 Champ; ’11 WC silver|
|Laban Korir||Kenya||2:06:05||Won Toronto last year (2:08:13)|
|Limenih Getachew||Ethiopia||2:06:49||2nd last year|
|Mike Kigen||Kenya||2:06:59||2nd to Mo Farah at 2014 Great North Run (60:00)|
|Mark Korir||Kenya||2:07:08||2nd at Paris Half Marathon on March 8 (60:52)|
|Abrha Asefa||Ethiopia||2:07:46||3rd at Paris Half (61:11)|
|Joel Kimurer||Kenya||2:07:48||6th at Boston last year|
|Luka Kanda||Kenya||2:08:02||3rd last year|
|Jean Damascene Habarurema||France||2:12:40|
|Vincent Chepkok||Kenya||2:13:21||PBs of 12:51/26:51; 2nd career marathon|
|Pius Kiprop||Kenya||debut||59:25 half|
|Yohan Durand||France||debut||63:43 half|
|Anouar Assila||France||debut||64:47 half|
|Badredine Zioini||France||debut||65:57 half|
|Timothee Bommier||France||debut||66:26 half|
LRC Prediction: We think an in-form guy will win it so that likely means Mike Kigen, Silas Cheprot or Limenih Getachew. Geachew has a habit of finishing second so we’ll rule him out. We’ll go with Kigen as he’s got two good halfs to his name this fall and it would be a good story. If he wins in Paris, we’ve got little doubt he let Farah win last Fall.
More: Dicuss these races in our fan forum: MB: 2015 Rotterdam Marathon Is Loaded (4 sub-2:05/8 sub-2:07) – We Break It (and Paris) Down For You