• Kimutai clocked 2:10:37 in finishing fourth at Chongqing last month
•Caroline Kilel leads the women's charge
Marius Kimutai leads a top field of marathoners for the Yellow River Estuary International Marathon in Dongying China today.
Kimutai is the fastest entrant in the field with a PB of 2:05:47 set from his third-place finish at the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon. It will be his second race in the current season as the 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:10:37 to finish fourth in Chongqing last month.
Slyvester Kimeli of returns to the course aiming to improve on his eighth-place finish from last year. The 2:06:49 performer ran his previous eight races in China but has yet to gain a victory. The Kenyan duo will have to contend with Ethiopia’s Fikadu Kebede.
The former Rabat Marathon champion just improved his PB by 70 seconds to 2:08:27 in Dubai this season. Hicham Laqouahi of Morocco also bettered his PB in 2019, clocking 2:08:35 in Beppu two months ago.
Girmay Birhanu is also one to watch. He registered his PB of 2:05:49 when he finished third in Dubai back in 2014. The 32-year-old came close to that mark in the following year when he won the Daegu Marathon in 2:07:26, his last sub-2:10 run.
In the women's category, Caroline Kilel faces a stern test. Kilel is actually the fastest woman on paper, but her career-best time of 2:22:34 was recorded back in 2013 when she took the victory in Frankfurt. After clocking 2:27:39 to win the Daegu Marathon in 2016, the 38-year-old hasn’t bettered 2:30 since. She competed in Dongying last year and finished fifth in 2:34:39.
Fellow Kenyan Agnes Kiprop is also returning to the familiar course following her fourth-place finish in 2017. The 39-year-old achieved her PB of 2:23:54 in 2011 and has maintained a high level of competitiveness, with her last victory coming two months ago in Hannover.
The Kenyan duo face Ethiopian Waganesh Mekasha. The rising Ethiopian achieved a big personal best of 2:22:45 to finish fourth at Dubai Marathon in January. Since her first international marathon in Singapore in 2014, when she took the top honours in 2:46:54, the 27-year-old has improved her lifetime best each time in four races including her victories in Padua and Hengshui last year.
Should such momentum continue in the Chinese city of Dongying, Mekasha stands a good chance of breaking the course record of 2:24:45 set by two -time winner Letebrhan Haylay last year.