Dubai: Ras Al Khaimah is bracing to host some of the top distance runners from across the globe at this year’s RAK Half Marathon, scheduled to be held on February 19.
World recordholder and reigning champion Ababel Yeshaneh will be back to defend her crown at the 2021 RAK Half Marathon as the emirate also builds up towards staging the 2023 World Half Marathon Championships.
Termed as ‘world’s fastest half marathon’, the RAK Half Marathon has attracted a tantalising field of top road runners, including 2020 London Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei, who is expected to challenge Yeshaneh this time.
The Ethiopian won the RAK Half Marathon last year in a time of one hour, 04.31 minutes - leaving the remaining two podium spots for Kenyans Kosgei (1:04.49) and Rosemary Wanjiru Monicah (1:05.34). The men’s race is also expected to be a quick-paced affair with defending champion Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya coming in as the hot favourite. The Kenyan ended 2020 with the fastest time of 58.38 minutes over the half marathon after winning in Prague, in September.
He had won the RAK race in February with a time of 58.58 mins and had later finished as runner-up in the World Half Marathon Championships in a time of 58.54, making him the first man to run sub-59 minutes three times in one year.
He will be joined by Uganda’s young sensation Jacob Kiplimo who took the world half-marathon title in 2020 ahead of Kandie in Gdynia. Only 20, Kiplimo had announced himself with a wonderful track season that saw him run 7:26.64 mins for 3,000 mts and 12:48.63 for 5,000 mts. In 2019, the Ugandan runner had taken silver at the world cross-country championships behind Joshua Cheptegei in Aarhus.
There are less than two weeks left for runners to confirm their entries for this year’s runs and organisers are calling on participants to register quickly. “Due to the global pandemic we have limited entries for our 2021 event, with restricted numbers and strict social distancing protocols to ensure everyone’s wellbeing and deliver a Covid-19 safe event,” organisers said.
“Race slots are being released in batches with the next wave only opening once the previous one is close to capacity or sold out. This is to help monitor and control numbers, giving the event every opportunity to proceed on the planned date,” the release added.
The 2021 RAK Half Marathon had a series of three preparatory virtual training runs in the lead up to the main event with the third and last one being held over a distance of 15 kms on January 15-16. All who have completed the three training runs have been entered into a grand prize draw.