Justus Kipkogei Kangogo and Rhonzas Kilimo lead the Kenyan contingent at Sunday’s 33rd Electrolit Guadalajara Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, where Veronica Wanjiru and Agnes Barsosio will aim to break 70 minutes for the first time in the event’s history.
Kangogo, 23, is the fastest in the Kenyan squad, thanks to his 59:31 run in Ostia, Italy, in 2017. Rhonzas Kilimo brings the experience from his runner-up performance in Gualajara in 2018, were only one second separated him from the win.
Six-time winner and course record holder Julius Kipyego Keter is also back to help maintain Kenyan supremacy in the men’s race, which they’ve won in all but three editions since 2013.
John Langat, Moses Kibet and John Kipsang Loitang, all boasting personal bests under 1:01, should secure close battle for the top prize, which may bring down the course record of 1:02:31 set by Kipyego in 2011.
However, two sub-60 minute runners may have other plans to spoil the Kenyan party. Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay is the fastest in the field with his 59:21 performance in Copenhagen five years ago. Ethiopia’s Ayele Abshero, who ran 59:42 in 2011, may also feature well for the top positions.
After a successful career on the track, two-time Olympic finalist Juan Luis Barrios returns to Guadalajara, a race he won in 2015 and 2016 to break the Kenyan hegemony.
Leading the Mexican charge, Barrios will be joined by other top local athletes, including 62-minute runner Jose Antonio Uribe, Jose Luis Santana, Juan Joel Pacheco and Juan Carlos Carrera.
The women’s race will crown a new champion, a title left vacant by Diana Chemtai, who lowered the previous course record by almost a minute and a half to 1:10:00, the fifth fastest half marathon ever run by a woman on Mexican soil.
Veronica Wanjiru, the fastest in the field with a 1:07:58 personal best, will try to keep the Kenyans on top, as will her countrywomen Agnes Barsosio (1:08:21), Joyce Chempkemoi (1:09:21) and Milliam Ebongon (1:10:34).
Four former champions are back in Guadalajara: Kenya’s three-time winner Risper Gesabwa (2015-2017) and Ethiopia’s Shewarge Alene Amare (2010-2011), as well as Mexico’s Marisol Romero (2013) and Mayra Vidal (2013).
Colombian record holder Kellys Yesenia Arias (1:11:21) could also be in the mix for the leading positions.
Also known as the Pearl of the West or the City of Roses, Guadalajara’s 1600m altitude should also be a factor in the elite races. The race is expected to attract 15,000 runners.