Strong field at Ottawa Marathon puts records in danger

Spectators lining the streets to watch the Ottawa Marathon could witness history being made.

Spectators lining the streets to watch the 2013 running of the marathon event at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend could witness history being made.

“We could see a course record and possibly the record on Canadian soil broken this year in the men’s division,” says Manny Rodrigues, elite athlete coordinator for the race, which happens on May 26. “With confirmed athletes in top condition, I expect this to be an intensely competitive race right to the finish if weather conditions are right.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Kenyan Laban Moiben, who set a new course record last year in Ottawa with a time of 2:09:12, is returning to defend his title. He will have an eye on the 2:07:57 record set on Canadian soil in 2010 by fellow countryman Kenneth Mungara.

Moiben will get fierce competition from Kenyans Nathaniel Kipkosgei, 28 (2:06:28), and Victor Kipchirchir, 25 (half-marathon PB of 59:31). Running times that are also well within range of breaking course and Canadian soil records are Ethiopians Tariku Jufar, 28 (2:06:51), and Terefi Kebede, 32 (2:07:32).

Canadian racer Eric Gillis, 33 – who placed 10th overall in the Ottawa 10K distance in 2012 before running the marathon event at the Summer Olympic Games in London – is confirmed to run the 2013 marathon and is competing in the Canadian National Marathon Championship.

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Confirmed racers in the women’s category could smash the course record of 2:27:41 set by Moroccan Asmae Leghazoui in 2009.

“Among the women, it could be a very tight race,” says Manny Rodrigues. “There’s a field of eight very strong runners with similar times, making it hard to predict the outcome.”

Last year’s top half-dozen marathoners are returning in 2013, with Yeshi Esayias, 27 (2:26:00) as the defending champion. In addition to Esayias, Ethiopians may dominate the course, with Netsanet Achamo, 25 (2:24:12), Misiker Demissie, 25 (2:25:20), Sechale Delasa, 21 (:26:00) likely setting the pace. But they may trail Russian Maria Konovolova, 38, who boasts a PB of 2:23:50.

Canadian Lisa Avery, 36, will run the marathon this year hoping to defend her national title. She’ll get stiff competition from 41-year-old Lioudmila Korthchaguina, a four-time Ottawa Marathon winner who is returning to the line-up this year.

“For anyone who enjoys watching marathons, this will be a race to watch,” says Manny Rodrigues.