THE 2012 Berlin Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai is set to compete at the Ras Khaimah half marathon on February 15.
Mutai will be looking to set a fast time after clocking 59:43 en route to winning the event in 2010. Mutai is one of a select few to have run sub 60. The others include the late Sammy Wanjiru (2007) world marathon record holder Patrick Makau (2007-2008) Deriba Merga (2011) and Dennis Koech (2012).
Indeed, few could have guessed that when the late Sammy Wanjiru won the inaugural event in 2007 this quiet port city less than 50 miles from Dubai, his 59:53 clocking would become just one of 19 sub-one hour performances in the first six years of the event.
Among those attracted by that promise of training fulfilment this year is the exciting Stephen Kibet. Last year he ranked number two with 58:54. Others to consider include Ezekiel Chebii, the winner in Lille last September (59:05) and Pius Maio Kirop, Berlin winner last April (59:25).
Among the Ethiopians, world marathon bronze medallist Feyisa Lelisa, winner at Houston in 2012 (59:22), has already retained that title this year, and Getu Feleke, fourth in Ras Khaimah twelve months ago and subsequently second in the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:04:50, will likely go better.
That astonishing world record of 65:50 by Keitany in the 2011 race confirmed that the RAK organisers can all but guarantee perfect conditions when much of Europe and North America is still mired in winter weather. As a result, the women's field is also loaded with Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey. After a relatively quiet 2011-2012, and now a mother, she is bullish about her chances of showing similar form to that which saw her win here three years ago in 67:07.