Ladies to chase World Record in RAK
This years ladies' field promises to possibly outshine the men's. Last year's winner, Dire Tune (ETH) returns, licking her wounds after a rare defeat in the recent Zayed Half in Abu Dhabi but claims are that she is in terrific form and her coach is asking for pacers to go at World Record schedule.
She will, however, have her hands full this time. Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse, World and Olympic medallist on the track, makes her half marathon debut here and is very happy at the prospect of pacers going at record pace. She is a proven winner, very aggressive and not scared to take the race by the scruff of the neck if she's in the right shape.
Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia, who was second in 2009, cannot be discounted. The former middle distance runner has a huge kick in her armoury and if she is still in contention in the late stages, you can expect to see fireworks! Her endurance is solid, she was 3rd in Berlin Marathon at last year's world championships and was the last person to beat World Half Marathon champion Mary Keitany (KEN) on the roads in the Bangalore 10km last season.
Kenyan born Dutch star Hilda Kibet knows what is needed at this level, she is cousin of World Record Holder Lornah Kiplagat and has been training with her in Iten, Kenya and reports are that she is in fine shape. The ever smiling European will not be intimidated by the opposition having defeated most of them over the past few years on both the track and cross country.
Kenya's challenge will be led by World Championship 4th placer Caroline Cheptanui, a renowned front runner also with a great Marathon time to her credit. She will lead the charge to try to regain the ladies' title last won by Salina Kosgei a couple of years ago. All in all, no less than 13 of the elite ladies on the line have a Personal Best time of less than 70 minutes, making it one of the strongest fields ever in a ladies half marathon. With this calibre of ladies on the start line those record books may need to be dusted off once more!