Sharon_Cherop1.pngA showdown between Sharon Cherop and Aberu Kebede in the women’s race is likely to be one of the highlights of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, which celebrates its 33rd edition October 26.

Organisers of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race announced on Wednesday that the addition of Kenya’s Cherop to the women’s elite field, which is led on time by Ethiopia’s Kebede. Cherop’s inclusion means that there is a quartet of women on the start list who have run between 2:20 and 2:23.

Kebede, the fastest woman on Frankfurt’s start list with a best of 2:20:30, showed fine form last Sunday when she won the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 1:08:40 and was an early confirmation for the latest edition of the marathon beside the River Main in Germany.

Cherop, 30, should provide a tough challenge for Aberu Kebede, who has announced that she hopes to break 2:20 on the fast course in Frankfurt.

The Kenyan was runner-up in last year’s Berlin Marathon, improving to 2:22:28. Married to 2:10 marathon runner Matthew Bowen, Cherop has proved she is a tough competitor time and again.

Winning the Boston Marathon in 2012 has been her biggest success to-date and she also placed third in Boston in 2011 and 2013 as well as taking the marathon bronze medal at the 2011 IAAF World Championships. Her last marathon win was in Singapore last December in very difficult conditions while, in a very strong women’s race in Boston last April, she finished eighth with 2:23:00.

Aberu_Kebede.pngAfter a series of fine performances in the last three years, including finishing second in Frankfurt, 2014 has not gone according to plan so far for Flomena Chepchirchir and Cherop’s compatriot will be eager to regain her best form in Frankfurt after dropping out of the Boston Marathon in April and then finishing as far down as 10th in the Prague Marathon a few weeks later.

The 32-year-old Chepchirchir will be returning to familiar territory as it was in Frankfurt that she clocked her best of 2:23:00 in 2013. In 2011, Chepchirchir ran her marathon debut in Frankfurt and performed with distinction when finishing third in 2:24:21.

Prospects for a strong European performance are also high in Frankfurt as well as Russia’s Maria Konovalova is the fourth runner with a best under 2:23.

It was in Chicago last year, at the age of 39, that she improved her personal record by slightly over a minute to 2:22:46. Now 40, Konovalova could attack the world veteran’s best of 2:24:54 set by Germany’s Irina Mikitenko a year ago in Berlin. In March this year, Konovalova won the Nagoya Marathon in 2:23:43.

An estimated 15,000 runners are expected to take part in Germany’s oldest marathon in just over a month’s time.

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