|Bernard Ngeno winning the Bomet County half marathon|
Below is a press release from the organizers of the race.
Safi, Morocco, February 9, 2019 - A high-calibre field spanning 10 different nationalities is set to take to the streets alongside Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for the Safi International Half Marathon next Sunday, February 24.
The men’s race will be headlined by Kenya’s Bernard Kipkorir Ngeno, who holds a swift personal best of 59:22 for the half marathon. He ran that to finish sixth in the Valencia Half Marathon last year, and the 22-year-old has begun 2019 in promising fashion, finishing fifth at the Houston Half Marathon in 61:20.
His compatriot Edwin Koech is also sure to feature, the 26-year-old who has a best of 60:24, which he ran in Verona back in 2017. The Ethiopian charge will be led by Ashenafi Moses, the 22-year-old who has run 61:22 already this year at the Barcelona Half Marathon. His fellow Ethiopian Gizachew Hailu Negasa, who has a best of 62:49, is also sure to be in contention.
Uganda’s Nathan Ayeko, a 61:50 performer, will also look to start his 2019 campaign with a win. Burundi’s Onesphore Nzikwinkunda has already done just that, the 21-year-old taking victory at the Corrida di San Geminiano Modena in Italy last month, and he will be looking to lower his PB of 62:15 when he takes to the roads in Safi on Sunday.
South Africa will be represented by the formidable Lesiba Precious Mashele, who had a breakthrough year in 2018, which he rounded off with a third-place finish in 61:17 at the Boulogne-Billancourt Half Marathon last November.
The home challenge will be led by Moroccans Soufiane Bouichou, Zakaria Boudad and Othmane El Goumri, with Boudad the quickest of the three on paper with a PB of 62:14. Bahrain’s Hassan El Abbassi, the Asian record holder in the marathon via his PB of 2:04:43, is another who is sure to feature, as will Tanzania’s Faraja Lazaro Damasi.
Burundi’s Diane Nukuri is the star attraction in the women’s race, the US-based 34-year-old who is an accomplished performer from the mile to the marathon. She has a best of 2:27:50 for the marathon and has been a regular fixture in many of the world’s biggest races over the past decade, finishing a career-best fifth at the New York City Marathon in 2016. She has a best of 69:12 at the half marathon, which she will hope to improve in Safi in her bid to take glory.
Standing in her way is Tanzania’s Failuna Abdi Matanga, who clocked her PB of 69:36 in Barcelona last year. Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayalew, a 2016 Olympian in the 3000m steeplechase, will step back up to the half marathon, the 28-year-old appearing poised to revise her PB of 71:56.
Other Ethiopians in the field include Zenebu Fikadu Jebesa, who will make her half marathon debut in Safi, and Asnakesh Awoke Mengesha.
Kenya’s leading challenger will be Vicoty Chepngeno, who clocked her PB of 70:18 to take victory in Philadelphia last November. Bahrain’s Shuba Aman, Lesotho’s Neheng Melida Khatala are also sure to put up a strong showing, while hopes of a home win will rest with Morocco’s Fouzia Majdoubi.
Last year’s races were won by Ethiopians Getaneh Molla and Meseret Belete Tolla, who ran 63:01 and 73:29 respectively.