World’s best to lead Cochin International Half Marathon

Cochin: Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai and Helah Kiprop will lead the international men’s and women’s fields, respectively, in the Cochin International Half Marathon which will flag off from the Maharaja College Ground here on Dec 29.

The 29-year-old Mutai, who has a half marathon personal best of 59.52 minutes is one of the world’s best distance runners, having won high profile events like the London and Amsterdam marathons.

Mutai will be pushed hard by the other talented athletes in the field including countryman Bernard Kipyego and Ethiopians Merkebu Birke Ayele and Abere Belay.

With a half marathon personal best of 59.10 and having won silver at the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships, Kipyego is also one of the favourites to win here.

The men’s elite field will have 16 runners and among the other fancied names are Kenyan Sammy Korir, Ethiopian Melaku Bizunesh and Kenya`s Michael Kipyego.

Helah, who leads the women’s field, is one of the best half marathon runners in the world and finished second in the 2012 Berlin Half Marathon. This year she bettered her personal best to 1.07.39 while winning the 2013 edition in Berlin.

Helah is not new to India. She won the Hyderabad 10 km run and finished third in the Delhi Half Marathon and is the favourite to win the first Cochin International Half Marathon.

She will have to contend with Ethiopians Yeyenesh Tilahun Dinkese and Tizita Niguse Wubishet, both making their half marathon debuts.

Yeyenesh is new to international running and has only run one international race, the Istanbul 15 km Nov 17 which she won in a strong 49:52. The race here will be only her second international race but is expected to battle hard for victory.

The women’s field also includes the triplets from Estonia Leila, Liina and Lily Luik, who have personal bests of 73.58, 78.00 and 79.01, respectively.