Mosinet Geremew wins the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2018 Image Credit: Ahmed ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The field for the 2021 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon has got even stronger with some more top-level international confirmations for the race.

To be staged on the Al Marjan Island on February 19 with a total prize fund of more than Dh1.21 million, the 15th edition of race has already attracted world champions Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo among the early confirmations for next year’s race.

The top two attractions in the field have been dominant over the distance. With his historic record-breaking time of 57.32 minutes, Kandie recently claimed the world record at the Valencia Half Marathon last month.

The 20-year-old Kiplimo followed in a close second after claiming victory and his country’s first medal at the World Half Marathon Championships held in Gdynia, Poland, in October.

Pitching in to make the event even more engrossing will be Mosinet Geremew and Alexander Mutiso Munyao.

Ethiopian runner Geremew won the 2018 Dubai Marathon and was placed second in the 2019 London Marathon with a 2:02.55 — the fourth-fastest time ever in that distance. He is also the current world silver medal holder after being placed second at the 2019 World Marathon Championships.

After ending as runner-up at last year’s RAK Half Marathon, Mutiso Munyao was recently placed fourth at the Valencia Half Marathon with a time of 57.59.

Also set to mark a return for next year’s race is Kenyan Stephen Kiprop the defending champion at the RAK Half Marathon which he won with a personal best time of 58.42. Fellow course record Bedan Karoki has also confirmed to join the swelling field of international long-distance runners, while European Half Marathon record-holder Julien Wanders of Switzerland — who finished fourth last year — is also confirmed to return for yet another year.

Making his debut in the UAE will be Norway’s Sondre Nordstadt Moen — one of the fastest Europeans ever with a marathon personal best of 2:05.48, and 59.48 in the half marathon.

The women’s field will be equally daunting with Brigid Kosgei, marathon world record holder and 2020 London Marathon winner leading the field alongside Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh, who is the mixed half marathon world record holder. Yeshaneh is the defending champion of the RAK Half Marathon after winning the 2019 race in style with a historic winning time of 64.31 minutes.

Expected to challenge the top two will be some quality runners such as Peres Jepchirchir, Ruth Chepngetich, Sara Hall and Yalemzerf Yehualaw.

Jepchirchir, who recently won the World Half Marathon Championship in Gdynia with a record time of 1:05.16, ended her 2020 season on a high note with another win at November’s Valencia Marathon with a women’s course record of 2:17.15 — the fifth fastest time in history.

The current world marathon champion following her win at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, Chepngetich recently clocked a remarkable 1:05.06 at the New Delhi Half Marathon. She is no stranger to conditions here having won the 2019 Dubai Marathon with a course record of 2:17.08 — also the fourth-fastest time in the women’s event.

Also expected to stand out will be American Hall following her outstanding second place at the 2020 London Marathon. Before that, Hall ran the Row River Half Marathon in a modest time of 1:08.18 — also a personal best by 40 seconds and the sixth-fastest time in America.

Yehualaw is also expected to thrive on her low profile as the Ethiopian has also been confirmed as champion of the New Delhi Half Marathon where she clocked a quick 64.46 minutes, earlier this year.

Flat and fast, the course for the RAK Half Marathon stretches along the scenic shores of Al Marjan Island with the non-elite athletes having a separate start and finish, while the elite runners will go along the same route as 2020.

The RAK Half Marathon is a Bureau Veritas safety certified event, with stringent safety measures in place to safeguard participants, volunteers, guests and residents. Primary sponsors for the 2021 event include Ras Al Khaimah Tourism and Development Authority (RAKTDA), Ras Al Khaimah Ports, leading sports brand Joma and Dubai Sports Channel, among others.

Further details and registration procedures can be found at therakhalfmarathon.com.