January 22, 2018
With the 12th edition of the super-fast RAK Half Marathon due to take place in the UAE on Friday 9th February, the confirmed men’s and *women’s elite fields clearly trump even the star-studded line-ups of one year ago. Reigning men’s champion Bedan Karoki is back to defend his title, but with fifteen men able to boast sub-60 minute bests – two more than last year – his task to win again, whether he runs as fast as his victorious 59:10 mark twelve months back or not, will be harder than ever.
No less than twenty-nine men have now broken the hour on the sweeping loops of the RAK circuit, including the four under 60 minutes last year, each of whom set their personal best in the process, and three of them are back. Facing Karoki again, the astonishing Augustine Choge, able to boast the greatest range of world class times in history and who clocked 59:26 in third place in only his third half marathon, continues to seek experience before venturing to the full marathon, while Solomon Yego, fourth last year, dipped under the hour for the first time on a record-eligible course.
Alongside them, twelve others have tasted “times in the 50’s”, their range varying from the hugely experienced Guye Adola of Ethiopia, with his 27:09 10,000m speed combining with his 2:03.46 marathon strength, to the raw talent of 20 year old Jorum Lumbasi Okombo of Kenya, who with his 58:48 in Copenhagen last September, was world No.2 in 2017. Others to watch include winner of RAK in 2014 and twice winner of the Boston Marathon Lelisa Desisa, the Ethiopian having won his last four half marathons, and compatriot debutante Jemal Yimer, who at 21 can already claim a fifth place in last summer’s world championship 10,000m as well as fourth spot in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in March.
With such a display of talent due to line up on the day of the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony, those with an eye for road racing of the very highest quality can divert their attention to the live **broadcast of arguably the world’s consistently fastest half marathon of the last decade and more.
*The women’s field, looking to improve on the then world record of Peres Jepchirchir from last year, is of astonishing strength, and has been described by one pundit as “of literally unprecedented quality and depth”. It will be announced on Monday 29th January.
**The 12th RAK Half Marathon Women’s Elite race starts at 6.45am local time (2.45am UK) and the men 15 minutes later. The races are being covered live globally on Abu Dhabi Sports Channel 2 and can be found on the internet at https://video.tv.ae/channels/
RAK Half Marathon 2018 – Mens’ Elite Field
|1||Bedan Karoki (KEN – Def Ch)||59:10||11||Leonard Barsoton (KEN)||59:28|
|2||Jorum Lumbasi Okombo (KEN)||58:48||12||Lelisa Desisa (ETH)||59:30|
|3||Guye Adola (ETH)||59:06||13||Alex Kibet (KEN)||59:32|
|4||James Wangari (KEN)||59:07||14||Geoffrey Yegon (KEN)||59:44|
|5||Fikadu Haftu (ETH)||59:22||15||Solomon Yego (KEN)||59:50|
|6||Josphat Tanui (KEN)||59:22||16||Shadrack Kimining (KEN)||60:07|
|7||Albert Kangogo (KEN)||59:25||17||Ali Kaya (TUR)||60:16|
|8||Augustine Choge (KEN)||59:26||18||Timothy Toroitich (UGA)||63:14|
|9||Edwin Kiptoo (KEN)||59:26||19||Jemal Yimer (ETH)||Debut|
|10||Vincent Rono (KEN)||59:27|