On Sunday 18 October Wilson Chebet will be lining up for the TCS Amsterdam Marathon for the sixth time. The 30-year-old Kenyan is hoping to secure a fourth victory in his beloved city of Amsterdam. During the 40th edition of the marathon, the favourite will face serious opposition from Bernard Kipyego (last year’s winner), Tsegaye Mekonnen (2:04:32) and Jonathan Maiyo (2:04:56). With this top line-up, organiser Le Champion is hoping to lower the course record of 2:05:36.
Having competed on five previous occasions, Chebet knows every kilometre of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon. The good-natured Kenyan, who always shouts “I love Amsterdam,” each year, holds the course record of 2:05:36, which he set in 2013. Last year he was not on form and the victory went to fellow Kenyan Bernard Kipyego. Earlier this year Chebet won a place on the podium at the Boston Marathon, where he came third.
Kipyego burst onto the scene last year when he emerged as the winner, setting a personal record of 2:06:22 despite the heat during the 2014 marathon. Can the 29-year-old Kenyan pull it off again this year?
Tsegaye Mekonnen is one of Ethiopia’s most talented runners. The 18-year-old made a big first impression at last year’s Dubai marathon, winning with a very fast time of 2:04:32, which now stands as the official Junior World Record. 27-year-old Jonathan Maiyo also set his personal record in Dubai, finishing fourth in a time of 2:04:56 in 2012. The Kenyan has shown that he is in good form this year, completing the half marathon in 60:08 minutes.
Le Champion has already announced that Dutch marathon runners Michel Butter, Abdi Nageeye and Khalid Choukoud will be competing. All three will be chasing the qualifying time for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro of 2 hours and 11 minutes. Koen Raymaekers and Paul Zwama (Dutch champion in 2014) have also decided to run in this year’s TCS Amsterdam Marathon.
The record for most victories is currently held by Gerard Nijboer, who won the event in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1989). Chebet is capable of matching this achievement.
The 2015 TCS Amsterdam Marathon has signed up Ethiopia’s Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on 18 October.
The 27-year-old hasn’t won a marathon since her victory in London three years ago but showed signs that the injury problems of 2013 and 2014 are now behind her when she clocked 2:24:26 for third place at the Tokyo Marathon in February, her fastest outing since her Olympic triumph.
Gelana’s national record of 2:18:58 from the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon makes her the fastest in the women’s elite field and, whether coincidentally or not, has always run well in the Netherlands, setting several personal bests over shorter distances in Dutch road races.
She also won the Amsterdam Marathon back in 2011, setting what was then a personal best and course record of 2:22:08, so Gelana has some familiarity with the race itself and knows fast times can emerge if there are favourable weather conditions.
Two places behind Gelana in the Japanese capital at the start of this year was Kenya’s 2014 Commonwealth Games winner Filomena Cheyech, and the latter will also be on the start line in Amsterdam.
Cheyech has a best of 2:22:44, set when winning the Paris Marathon last year.
Another Kenyan added to the Amsterdam women’s field is African 10,000m champion Joyce Chepkirui.
Despite her credentials on the track, Chepkirui has yet to really impress at the marathon and her best stands at a relatively modest 2:29:07, when finishing 10th in Boston this year.
However, she won the high quality Dam tot Dam 10 mile road race in and around Amsterdam last month, running a personal best of 51:30, and this suggest she might be ready to make a big improvement over the