Over the last ten years, this IAAF Silver Label Road Race has witnessed a faster finisher in nearly each edition. Last year both the men's and women's course records were improved by winners Jafred Chirchir (2:05:48) and his Kenyan compatriot Georginia Rono (2:24:33).
Of the eight runners on the start list faster than 2:10 is the 24-year-old Tadesse Tola of Ethiopia. He clocked a personal best of 2:05:10 in the Dubai Marathon this spring finishing fifth. He knows the fast course in Eindhoven where he finished fourth last year. He was first and second in 2010 in the Paris and Frakfurt marathons, respectively.
Tola's primary opponents are Kenyan Erick Ndiema who has a 2:06:07 personal best and Sisay Jisa of Ethiopia, who caught the attention of athletics fans when he finished third at the 2012 Paris Marathon in a hugely impressive 2:06:27 on his debut over the classic distance.
"Now, I want to run 2:04 in Eindhoven. I am confident I have this capability because I train with the men who were second and third in the Chicago Marathon last Sunday. I saw whet they did and now I know what I can do," Jisa confidently told a press conference in Eindhoven on Thursday.
Jisa's compatriots Feyisa Lilesa and Tilahun Regassa ran personal best times of 2:04:52 and 2:05:27 respectively on the other side of the Atlantic less than a week ago.
"I train with them and I have no problem staying with them when we run together," said Jisa, in simple but clear English.
"My friend Tadesse Tola told me what a good course it is and that fast times are possible," added Jisa.
The other sub 2:10 include: Stephen Tum (KEN, 2:07:17), Dickson Kiptolo Chumba (KEN, 2:07:23), Nicholas Kipkorir Chelimo (KEN, 2:07:38), Francis Kipkoech Bowen (KEN, 2:08:01) and Gezahagen Beyene Girma (ETH, 2:09:16). The favorite for the Dutch Marathon title, which will be held concurrently, is Koen Raymaekers, who hopes to better his personal best of 2:10:35. The plan is to pass the first half marathon in 1:02:45. A group of five will set the pace.
Dutchwoman Miranda Boonstra is the fastest in the women's field with a personal best of 2:27:32. She clocked that time on 15 April in Rotterdam this year missing London Olympic qualification by a mere eight seconds. Dinkenesh Mekasha (ETH) and her compatriot Aberume Mekuria, with personal bests of 2:29:56 and 2:30:17 respectively, appear to be Boonstra’s chief challengers.
Runners from 35 countries have entered the Marathon. More than 18,000 runners, competing over several distances, are expected to start.
Wim van Hemert and organisers for the IAAF