Here's the latest news on some of the world's best distance running events which has come across your editor's desk recently:
LONDON (06-Sep) -- adidas Women’s 5-K Challenge. Two world champions, both from Kenya, will clash in this all-women's event on Sunday in Hyde Park. Linet Masai, who won the world 10,000m title in Berlin, and Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the world 5000m crown, will go head-to-head in this popular race organized by the Virgin London Marathon. Masai, whose elegant stride and long neck makes her easy to spot on the track, finished second here last year to superstar Meseret Defar. "I enjoyed this race last year when I finished just 30 seconds behind Meseret," said the 19-year-old athlete through a press release. "This year I aim to cross the line first and believe I am in shape to chase Paula's record" (Paula Radcliffe ran 14:51 in 2003). Other contenders for the win include New Zealand's Kim Smith, Russia's Inga Abitova, Kenya's Grace Momanyi, Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix, and Australis's Lara Tamsett. Britain's world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis will be the official starter.
NEW HAVEN (07-Sep) -- Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race. Not only is next Monday's race in New Haven the USA championship for men and women at 20 km, but it represents a unique, one-day opportunity for American men to qualify for USA Men's Marathon Championship at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1. The New York Road Runners and USATF agreed that all men running 1:01:30 or better at the race would be eligible for entry to the national marathon championship, even if they had not run at least 2:24:00 for a full marathon, or 1:05:00 for a half-marathon, from Jan. 1, 2008, through July 1, 2009, the original qualifying standards. At last year's edition of the New Haven 20-K, ten men broke 1:01:30.
ROTTERDAM (13-Sep) -- Fortis Half-Marathon Rotterdam. Olympic gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya will headline the field for this fast and flat half-marathon in the Netherlands. Wanjiru, 22, the world record holder for the standard 21.097 km distance with a 58:33 personal best, will be using this event to help him prepare for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 11 where he is expected to challenge Haile Gebrselassie's 2:03:59 world record. Wanjiru won the Rotterdam race in 2005 as a junior, setting the still-standing world junior record of 59:16. Wanjiru's key opponent will be the road racing specialist, Sammy Kitwara of Kenya, who has recorded five significant road racing victories this year and has a half-marathon personal best of 59:47. Three more Kenyans (Bernard Kipyego, 59:34 PB; John Kiprotich, 59:44; and Charles Munyeki, 59:44) and an Ethiopian (Tilahun Regassa, 59:36), will also challenge for the podium.
BERLIN (20-Sep) -- real,- BERLIN MARATHON. This superfast marathon, the first of the fall season of the World Marathon Majors, will feature a unique head-to-head match-up between history's two fastest marathoners: Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and Kenya's Duncan Kibet. Gebrselassie set the world record of 2:03:59 at this event last year, becoming the first man ever to break two hours and four minutes for a standards 42.195 km marathon. Kibet won Rotterdam last April in a thrilling sprint finish over James Kwambai where both men were timed in 2:04:27, the second fastest time in history. The race, the largest marathon in Europe with 35,786 finishers in 2008, has recorded over 40,000 entrants this year.
TORONTO (27-Sep) -- The North American marathon season kicks off with the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and defending champions Kenneth Mungara of Kenya and Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia have been confirmed by race director, Alan Brookes. Mungara won last year by just two seconds in 2:11:01, while Seboka won by over a minute and set a course record of 2:29:06. "We're very pleased to have both Mulu and Kenneth back," Brookes commented. "To have both champions return is a reflection on our event, and will definitely add to the excitement." Last year's event, which includes a marathon, half-marathon and 5-K, recorded 11,775 finishers, up 29% from the prior year.