GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon on May 17th will be a fast race. Many runners have the capacity to reach the track records, 60,25 for men (Victor Kipchirchir, Kenya, 2012) and 69,04 for women (Joyce Chepkirui, Kenya, 2011).
– Especially among the ladies. We haven’t had this kind of starting field before. Six female runners have a personal record under 69 minutes on a half marathon, says Per Crona, responsible for the elite runners.
However, he can’t promise any record for the tough course. Perfect weather, with no wind and a moderate temperature, is needed for a new track record.
A runner that does have the chance is Aselefech Merga from Ethiopia.
– She’s probably the best runner in GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon since Grete Waitz in the early 80s. Merga has won Dubai Marathon, one of the world’s largest races, twice, and won world championship medals in both the half marathon and marathon class, Per Crona continues.
Aselefech Merga is now back racing after having a baby last year. She’ll receive tough competition from the winners from the last two years, Hilda Kibet, Holland, and Isabella Ochichi, Kenya. The most qualified runner in the field is Vanessa Fernandez, Portugal – but not as a runner.
– She has won both the world championship and European championship in triathlon and is now getting back after an injury.
On the men’s side, the competition is almost as tough.
– Six male runners have run under 60 minutes. We have a great variety in our starting field and it’s tougher and tougher every year. GöteborgsVarvet is the world’s largest half marathon and that means that it’s a huge merit to win here. And it’s not because of the money runners come to Göteborg. We pay less than many other race organizers, but many managers consider GöteborgsVarvet one of the highlights of the race year, says Per Crona.
He can’t name a favorite runner.
– My bet is as good as anyone’s. It’s often young and ambitious runners who’ve finally gotten the chance to run in a big race who have surprised and gotten their big breakthrough here.
Such a runner is Victor Kipchirchir, Kenya, who two years ago shocked the favorites and set a new track record. He will be back this year. Another runner is 18 year-old Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, Eritrea who last year debuted on the distance with the fantastic time 60,09 and who later ended up as number 3 in GöteborgsVarvet.
East African dominance is probably a good guess.
– That’s how it looks like today. We want to be a world class race and then it’s naturally an East African dominance. But we are trying to get other nations to join too. For example Byron Piedra from Ecuador who has the national record on all distances from 800 meters and longer. Dmitiy Safronov is an interesting Russian and Gladwin Mzazi, South Africa might be able to join the world elite, says Per Crona.