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Going Out: RAK Half Marathon - An elite field ready in Ras al-Khaimah

The tenth edition of RAK Half Marathon features world record holders all battling it out for glory in the UAE.

Denzil Pinto
by Denzil Pinto
10th February 2016

article:10th February 2016

Top gun: Zersenay Tadese
is the reigning world half
marathon champion.
Top gun: Zersenay Tadese is the reigning world half marathon champion.

The annual RAK Half Marathon returns on Friday and with a strong field competing, you can witness the action unfold for what will be a fascinating race.

Since being launched in 2007, the event, which has become one of the most popular sporting competitions in the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, has gone from strength to strength, attracting thousands of competitive and community runners.


And with this year’s being the 10th edition, you can look forward to witnessing an exciting race.

Headlining the event is Eritrian Zersenay Tadese, the reigning world record holder and considered to be one of the greatest half marathon runners in history.

The 34-year-old’s personal best of 58:23 minutes came six years ago, but his time of 59:24m in his New Delhi triumph back in November shows he will be one of the contenders for the title.

Another athlete battling for a medal is Kenya’s Abraham Cheroben. The 23-year-old’s personal best came in Valencia when he clocked 58:14m and he will be a threat considering his 59:10m was the fastest last year.

He faces stern competition from compatriot Stanley Bigwott, who is no stranger to this course.

Back in 2013, the Kenyan finished runner-up and has gone sub 59 minutes, boasting seven major wins over the half distances including Paris and Philadelphia, while losing out to British distance running star Mo Farah at the Great North Run last September.

Across Ras Al Khaimah. Spectator points include start opposite City Hotel and Manar Mall Car Park.

Across Ras Al Khaimah. Spectator points include start opposite City Hotel and Manar Mall Car Park.

Another man returning to the emirate is 2014 runner-up Nguse Amsolom, who narrowly missed a medal at the World Half Championships in Copenhagen before tasting victory in Lisbon.

Throw into the mix former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang and the two fastest 10km runners in history in Leonard Komon and Micah Kogo then there’s plenty of quality throughout the leading dozen in the men’s elite race.

The women’s field is equally impressive. Previous races have seen female competitiors break the 67-minute mark including the fastest in the field, Priscah Jeptoo.

The 31-year-old and silver 2012 Olympic medalist, is as consistent over the half as she is the full distance, with top three finishes in all 10 of her major half marathon races including victory at the Great North Run in 2013 (in 65:45m) and in RAK in 2014 (67:02m).

The contenders: Kenyans Abraham Cheroben and Joyce Chepkirui.

The contenders: Kenyans Abraham Cheroben and Joyce Chepkirui.

Also taking to the streets is reigning world half marathon champion Gladys Cherono, who will be hoping to continue her rich vein of form in 2016.

She clocked run 2hrs, 20mins at the 2015 Dubai Marathon before winning the Berlin Marathon in 2:19:25, the eighth fastest time in history.

Cynthia Limo will be hoping to improve on her third-place finish, while Prague winner WorkneshDebele will be among a strong Ethiopian contingent.

They will be among the thousands taking part and with runners of all abilities competing, it promises to be an exciting affair for the spectators.

With viewing points at the start and finish – opposite to the City Hotel and the end of Manar Mall car park, you can witness the thrilling race for the entire 21.1km course that will see the runners go past RAK landmarks including Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Tower Links Golf Club.

Nasser Mradad, chairman of the executive organising committee, said: “From world records set by some of the world’s greatest distance runners to the personal victories of the recreational runners, whether completing their first half marathon or setting a new personal best time after months of training, every runner’s experience is now a part of the RAK Half Marathon’s history.”


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