Bangalore's 10k race to see elite athletes

Bangalore's 10k race to see elite athletes

The course record of 27 minutes, 51 seconds set by Eritrean Zersenay Tadese in 2008, will certainly be under threat Sunday when elite athletes, led by this season's Kenyan sensation Dennis Koech Kimetto, take the starter’s flag for the Tata Consultancy Services World 10K Bangalore run.

According to a release from event promoters Procam International here Friday, the elite field with 12 athletes having sub-28 minute personal bests will see a mixture of previous podium placers, World, Commonwealth and Olympic medallists and a clutch of hot new young talents from East Africa, whose headliner would undoubtedly be Kimetto.

Kimetto burst into the spotlight in February this year, upstaging many bigger and more experienced names, including his mentor and training partner Geoffrey Mutai when winning the Ras-al-Khaima 21-km Half Marathon in a time of 59:14 mins.

He followed this up with a strong sub-60 minute performance when winning the Berlin Half Marathon and then just last weekend eclipsed the 25-km World record, again in Berlin, clocking 1 hour, 11 minutes to take a clear 32 seconds off the previous best.

Kimetto has raced outside of Kenya just three times and has won on each occasion, beating World class fields.

He, he will face former winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia who revels in Indian conditions, and compatriot Dino Sefir who earlier in the year ran a blistering 2:04 marathon when finishing second in the 42-km Dubai Marathon. In the process, he booked his ticket to London 2012.

The field will also have last year’s runner-up Leonard Langat of Kenya who has a personal best of 27:50, besides evergreen Ugandan Moses Kipsiro who twice finished on the podium here.

Also in the fray is Kenyan Geoffrey Kipsang, the World Junior Cross Country champion who burst onto the road race scene in the Delhi Half Marathon in 2011 when he narrowly lost to Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa.

The women's race is no less star-studded. Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia has been a regular visitor to India over the last three years and during that time has become one of the world’s most feared road racers, running a stunning 2:19 marathon in January to book her place in London.

Her compatriot Merima Mohammed has the habit of running well in India, having been runner-up in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and will be looking to go one better.

Also in the hunt is Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia, a multiple winner in India. Kenya's elegant past winner Grace Momanyi, who was involved in a dead heat, will be out to prove a point as she pursues her Olympic ambitions with a confidence building performance in Bangalore.

Some of the other big names in the women's field are Nambian Helalia Johannes, Ethiopian teenager Fatuma Sado and countrywoman Merima Mohammed, besides Kenyan Philes Ongori, winner of the Berlin Half Marathon 2012.

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