Bekele, Kiplagat confirm participation in Kolkata 25k

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, Nov 11 (IANS) Olympic record-holder Kenenisa Bekele and Kenyan superstar long distance runner Florence Jebet Kiplagat will compete in the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K on December 17, the race promoters announced on Saturday.

It will be the first race in India for Bekele, a three-time Olympic gold medallist and 18-time world champion on the track and cross-country, and the first time he has ever raced over the distance.

Bekele's 25km best is 1:12:47, an intermediate time when he ran in the Berlin Marathon last year, which he went on to win in 2:03:03 and go second on the all-time list for the classic distance.

Motivating Bekele in Kolkata will also be the fact that he failed to finish on his return to the German capital for this year's marathon two months ago, his last race, and he will be out to prove he is back to his best.

"After my first visit to India a few years ago, as an ambassador for the Delhi Half Marathon, I have always been wanting to run here," Bekele said in a statement.

"I am hoping to set a new course record, at the very least. I look forward to running in Kolkata and hope my presence motivates people to come and run," he Bekele.

Heading the women's field at the TSK25K will be Kenya's Florence Kiplagat.

She is also world champion on multiple surfaces, having won at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and she is a former half marathon world record holder.

The women's course record and Indian national record is 1:27:31 set by Sudha Singh in 2015, a time which should be well within Kiplagat's capabilities.

The world record in a women's only race is 1:22:47 by Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe in 2005, en-route to her world marathon title in Helsinki that year. Kiplagat has a personal best faster than that world record, having run 1:22:17 in the Chicago Marathon last month, but that was in a mixed race.

--IANS

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