Kenyans take marathon feud to the streets of Rome

John Komen and Peter Kurui have been entered for this years Rome Marathon on March 22.

Komen has the fastest personal best of the entire field, but his 2:07:13 was achieved four years ago. In his most recent marathon, he clocked 2:14:27 to finish second in La Rochelle.

Kurui could also be one to watch. The 25-year-old has a PB of 2:08:56, set on Italian soil in Turin in 2011. Ethiopia’s Habtamu Assefa will be seeking to extend the country’s domination of the race with Shume Hailu and Ayelu Lemma won both races in the Italian capital; last year the third time in the race’s history that both titles were won by Ethiopian athletes.

Assefa, who represented Ethiopia at the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, has a personal best of 2:08:28, set at the 2013 Dubai Marathon.

Similarly, Teshome Gelana’s best of 2:07:37 dates back several years and he hasn’t run faster than 2:10 since September 2010. But the former Houston winner is consistent and earlier this year finished second in Tiberias in 2:12:33.

Also in the field – and perhaps the favourite – is Morocco’s Mustapha El Aziz. The African 10,000m silver medallist has only contested two marathons to date, but in his last outing he clocked a promising 2:07:55.

Another in-form athlete is Ukraine’s Oleksandr Sitkovskyy, who earlier this year clocked a PB of 2:09:11. The 36-year-old finished 12th at the 2012 Olympics and is a former winner in Florence, La Rochelle and Ljubljana.

The only athlete in the field who knows what it’s like to win in Rome is Italy’s Ruggero Pertile, the 2004 winner. Now 40, Pertile is still competitive and finished seventh at the 2014 European Championships.

Compatriot Jamel Chatbi will be making his marathon debut in Rome.

The women’s field is just as competitive as the men’s. Ethiopia’s Kitata will be looking to bounce back from her 2:34:26 clocking in Dubai earlier this year. Aside from that race, she has finished in the top two in her three other marathons to date and has a PB of 2:27:26, set last year.

Olena Burkovska is the fastest in the field. The Ukrainian’s PB of 2:27:07 was set when winning the 2013 Hannover Marathon, but she hasn’t run faster than 2:31 in her two marathons since then.

Belarusian Olympian Nastassia Ivanova will be aiming for her first marathon victory. Her best of 2:27:24 was set when finishing second in Dusseldorf three years ago.

As is the case in the men’s race, Italian hopes rest with a veteran. 37-year-old Deborah Toniolo will be making her Rome Marathon debut. Her PB of 2:28:31 was set nine years ago, but as recently as last year she clocked 2:31:35 to finish third in Turin.

Ethiopia’s Alem Mokonnin is something of an unknown quantity as this will be just her fourth marathon. The 20-year-old, who finished 11th in the junior race at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, has a PB of 2:31:20 set last year in Dubai.

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