There is a silent battle going on between Uganda’s long-distance runners for the three available men’s marathon race slots ahead of the Doha World Championships.
About nine runners have made the Doha grade by either making the top 10 positions in an IAAF Gold Label Race or running under the qualification standard time of 2:16:00 between March 7, 2018 and September 6, 2019.
In the first two weeks of April, Fred Musobo, Solomon Mutai and Felix Chemonges each ran new personal best (PB) times over the 42km races in Daegu, Vienna and Linz respectively and as well Alex Chesakit improved his qualification time by three minutes in Dakar last Sunday. To sieve the best three, Uganda Athletics Federation will narrow down to the best times posted within the qualifying period. It means Stephen Kiprotich, Robert Chemonges and Jackson Kiprop all have work to do when they wear their spikes today.
Kiprop, who holds the Mumbai Marathon course record, finished third at Muscat Marathon in January but must improve on his time of 2:13:31 posted in Shanghai last November when he lines-up for the Nagano Marathon in Japan.
Similarly, Kiprotich and Chemonges [Robert] ought to deliver when they feature in the elite field at the Hamburg Marathon in Germany.
Kiprotich had to run the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan last month but suffered typhoid days prior and missed out, according to his manager Jurrie van der Velden.
Now for the third year running, the 2012 Olympic marathon champion is in Hamburg, a place where he has delivered at each show.
“It was a no-brainer in a way that he knows what to expect in Hamburg,” stated Velden after rescheduling the race for Kiprotich. “Kiprotich knows the course, the organisation, and he has run there twice and did well both times,” he remarked.
As it stands, Kiprotich is second in the race for the tickets to Doha with a time of 2:07:57 when he came fifth in Hamburg on April 29, 2018.
Musobo is at the front after produced the second fastest time ever by a Ugandan marathoner - 2:06:56 - when he came second in Daegu, South Korea on April 7.
Then, 2015 World bronze medallist Mutai is tentatively third after he posted 2:08:05 at the Vienna Marathon in Austria on April 7 too.
Chemonges is fourth on the list to Doha with his time of 2:09:05 when he won the Porto Marathon in Portugal on November 4.
The 21-year-old will now need support from Kiprotich if he is to run better than Mutai’s recent show to make the Worlds’ grade.
“Chemonges is also down for Hamburg, so that will be an interesting battle there. Both (with Kiprotich) could run themselves into the Worlds’ team,” added Velden. Bar championships, Chemonges has improved his PB at every city marathon since 2016.
Joining Chemonges and Kiprotich on the Hamburg streets is Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi who will debut in the marathon having won two Olympic and four World steeplechase gold medals.
Another Kenyan Abel Kirui is eyeing the course record of 2:05:30, set by Eliud Kipchoge in his marathon debut in 2013. Ethiopian Ayele Abshero is the fastest in the field with a PB of 2:04:23.
CHEMONGES AT A GLANCE
Full name: Robert Chemonges
Date of Birth: Oct 15, 1997
Event: Half-Marathon, Marathon
Personal Best: 1:02:55 (Half-Marathon),
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden
KIPROTICH AT A GLANCE
Date of Birth: February 27, 1989
Main Event: Half-Marathon, Marathon
Personal Best: 1:01.15 (Half-Marathon),
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden
Twitter Handle: @Stephen42k
Kit Sponsor: Nike