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Posted: January 1, 2009  :

Athletics: World Record Is Target At 3rd RAK Half Marathon

Elite field announced for 20th February race

Ras Al Khaimah, January 2nd 2009 - With just over seven weeks to go, nothing less than a new world best is the target for the elite male athletes in the third edition of the RAK Half Marathon (Friday 20th February), the world's top winter half marathon. A total of thirteen men in the field have broken the still much respected one hour barrier ensuring that for the third consecutive year, that mark at least should go.

Just two years ago, in the inaugural staging of the event, Kenya's now Olympic Marathon Champion Samuel Wanjiru raced to a 58:53 clocking, then a world best and still the second fastest time in history. This year, the course has been adjusted slightly to make it faster still and the prize money increased yet further.

After winning in 5! 9:35 with a dip for the line in the 2008 event, 23 year-old Patrick Makau (KEN) is back to defend his title - and possibly go faster still. Since winning the Rotterdam half marathon in 59:29 last September, Makau has gained a second consecutive silver medal in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janeiro last October; the credentials of the young Kenyan are undoubted.

Makau, who has now broken the 60 minute barrier six times, will find retaining his RAK title very hard however. He is up against Deriba Merga (ETH), the Olympic Marathon fourth placer, who recently won the Delhi Half Marathon in 59:15, equal fastest of the year. Wilson Kipsang (KEN), with 59:16 for second in Delhi, and Abel Kirui (2:06:51 for 2nd in Berlin Marathon 2007) will present a huge challenge in what promises to be the greatest in-depth half marathon in history.

The women's race too, will be of the highest calibre with Kenya's 22 year old Philes Ongori, this world's fastest ! at the distance this year (67:57 in Marugame last February) he! ading th e list. Nine other starters have bests of under 70 minutes, including Aselefech Mergia (ETH), who won the Delhi Half Marathon in 68:17 less than eight weeks ago. Other challengers include Kenyans Julia Mombi Muraga (68:31 in 2008) and this year's Paris Marathon winner Martha Komu. Kenya's evergreen Edith Masai, at 41 years old, is the fastest in the field, her 67:16 best coming just two years ago in Berlin. Her inclusion ensures a heady mix of youth and experience and surely another very fast race.

Elite Men Best Time 
Deriba Merga (ETH) 59:15 
Patrick Makau (KEN) 58:55 
Paul Kosgei (KEN) 59:07 
Wilson Kiprotich Kipsang (KEN) 59:16 
Francis Kibiwott (KEN) 59:26 
Wilson Chebet (KEN) 59:33 
Tilahun Regassa (ETH) 59:34 
John Kiprotich (KEN) 59:44 
Charles Munyeki (KEN) 59:44 
Joseph Maregu (KEN) 59:45 
Mekubo Moguso (KEN) 59:48 
Dickson Marwa (KEN) 59:52 
Daniel Gitau (KEN) 59:58 

Elite Women 
Edith Masai (KEN0 67:16 
Philes Ongori (KEN) 67:57 
Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 68:17 
Julia Mombi Muraga (KEN) 68:31 
Lidia Cheromei (KEN) 68:35 
Gladys Cherono (KEN) 69:36 
Lucy Kabuu (KEN) 69:45 
Teyiba Erkesso (ETH) 69:45 
Pauline Wangui (KEN) 69:49 
Magdalene Makunzi (KEN) 69:58 

The RAK Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label status race and is presented by Saqr Port. Supported by TNT and The Co! ve Rotana. For registration information and to know more about! the race itself visit Registration closes on January 15, 2009. The RAK Half Marathon, February 20th 2009 is the world's richest half marathon.

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