Mo Farah’s hopes of winning the IAAF / Cardiff University World Half Marathon title in the Welsh capital on Saturday, 26 March just got a whole lot harder with the addition of the world record holder to the red-hot field.
Days after it was announced Kenya’s reigning world champion Geoffrey Kamworor aims to come to Cardiff to not only defend his title, but also better the world record, the man who has held that landmark for the past six year, Zersenay Tadese, joined the elite entries.
The 34-year-old tough-as-teak-Eritrean is on the verge of writing his name into the athletics history books as one of the greatest of all distance runners. Although he missed an individual medal two years ago in Copenhagen, he still collected another gold medal as Eritrea won the team competition for the first time.
That brought his tally of World Half Marathon Championship medals to 13, six of which are gold. In the 24-year history of the event, no athlete has been more successful than Tadese, who won four successive individual titles between 2006 and 2009, settled for silver in 2010 and then returned to the top of the podium in 2012 to take his fifth individual gold medal.
Only one other man, Kenya’s 1999 and 2000 winner Paul Tergat, has won more than one individual title at the event. Including team medals, Tergat and Kenyan team mate Moses Tanui have each won four gold medals.
If Kamworor successfully defends his crown in Cardiff, he would join Tadese and Tergat as just the third man to win back-to-back titles. The Kenyan, 10 years Tadese’s junior, claims he wants to better the world record mark of 58 min, 23 sec and, on a course that is fast and flat, he might well have to do that to claim a second gold medal.
All five Eritrean athletes finished in the top 10 in Copenhagen two years ago and their team for Cardiff includes not only Tadese, who finished fourth in 2014, but also Nguse Amlosom, who was fifth, and Samsom Gebreyohannes, who was eighth.
Meanwhile, Kamworor’s team mate Bedan Karoki warmed-up for his trip to Wales later this month by regaining his World’s Best 10K title, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in San Juan, Puerto Rico last weekend. The champion in 2014, he was in a group that went through 5K in 13:55 and eventually outkicked Leonard Barsoton and 2015 world leader Stephen Sambu to take the title in 27:42.
Karoki, the silver medallist at last year’s World Cross Country Championships, is unbeaten in his four half-marathons to date and has a best time of 59:4 set in the 2015 Copenhagen half-marathon.