Kenya's world half-marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei has been added to the women's elite field for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, brightening prospect of a mouth-watering head-to-head with three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba.
The pair have faced off only twice before. Firstly, at last year's Ras al Khaimah Hal Marathon where Jepkosgei finished third and the Ethiopian legend was fifth; secondly, in May this year at the Manchester 10km in Great Britain when Dibaba (whose participation in the ADHM 2018 had been previously announced) got the upper hand with a convincing win.
However, Jepkosgei will come to the ADHM 2018, scheduled for October 21, in fine form buoyed by a half marathon win in a high-altitude race back in Kenya last Sunday.
"The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is my first-ever trip to India and so I am very much looking forward to visiting and also competing against Tirunesh Dibaba as well as the rest of the accomplished and confident women," said the 24-year-old Jepkosgei.
Jepkosgei grabbed international attention in an emphatic way on several occasions during 2017. She set a world half-marathon record of 64:52 in Prague in April last year and improved that mark by one second to 64:51 in Valencia 12 months ago. Sandwiched between these two record-breaking half marathon outings, Jepkosgei also became the first woman to run under 30 minutes for 10km on the roads when she ran a world record of 29:43 on her return to the Czech capital Prague in September 2017.
Curiously, Jepkosgei is still looking for her first international win of 2018 and that will provide her with extra motivation in Delhi.
"I am very excited by the prospect of seeing Joyciline and Tirunesh duel for supremacy in the capital city. Both women are coming here in great shape and an entertaining and engaging battle should be in prospect," commented Vivek Singh, joint managing director of race promoters Procam International.
"The focus of attention will inevitably be on their head-to-head, but it also would be very unwise to ignore the rest of the elite women. We have already announced that there will be a very strong contingent in the women's race coming from Ethiopia,"
"With the likes of 2016 ADHM winner Worknesh Degefa, Ababel Yeshaneh, Zeineba Yimer and Senbere Teferi on the start line we could very well see an upset which will make headlines around the world," he added.
This year marks the 14th edition of the prestigious IAAF Gold Label Road Race which is now one of the world's leading half marathons. All the leading runners, both men and women, will have their sights on the first prize cheques of USD 27,000 with a total prize money purse (combined men and women) of USD 280,000.