Posted by: Joe English | November 20, 2007

Races: Tergat and Wanjiru to duel in Fukuoka Marathon

UPDATE: For post-race coverage, click here.

According to the International Association of Athletics Foundation, there’s one more elite match-up coming as the marathon year comes to a close. Paul Tergat and Sammy Wanjiru plan to go toe-to-toe at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan.

Paul Tergat is the former world record holder in the marathon, whose mark 2003 world record was just recently broken by Haile Gebreselassie at the Berlin Marathon. This will be Tergat’s first race since running London this past April. In London, Tergat placed 6th in 2:08:06, running under hot weather conditions that greatly impacted the elite runners. Tergat’s personal best, his world record, was 2:04:55 set in Berlin in 2003. Tergat is also known for legendary battles on the track and at shorter distances with Gebreselassie.

Sammy Wanjiru on the other hand is making his debut at the marathon distance. What makes him special is that he has set the world record in the half-marathon, not once, but twice this year. Wanjiru set a half marathon world record of 58:53 minutes on February 9, 2007 in Ras al Khaimah and then beat his own record by running 58:33 on March 17, 2007 in The Hague, The Netherlands. Blowing 20 seconds off your own record pace in little over a month is pretty incredible.

The Fukuoka Marathon is capable of fast times and has been drawing elite runners. Last year, Haile Gebreselassie won the race in 2:06:52. In doing so, he just missed the course record time of 2:06:51 set by Japanese runner Atsushi Fujita in 2000.

In pairing these two runners, we’ll get a glimpse at the potential of two great athletes. Tergat, the former world record holder, testing his strength again, while Wanjiru gets the help of one of the world’s greatest in his debut at the marathon distance. If Wanjiru’s speed over the half-marathon distance holds up in the marathon, he could be a major force of marathon running in the future.

This year’s installment of the Fukuoka Marathon will be held on December 2nd 2007.

Check back here to see how this battle turns out.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA

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Responses

  1. […] Previously billed as a match-up between a veteran and a dubutant, former world record holder Paul Tergat withdrew from the race before-hand with concerns over an injury. Although without the help of Tergat in his debut, Wanjiru showed great patience in settling in to the pace at the longer distance. He had said before the race that his primary concern was going out too fast. He stayed patient and the nerves went away around the 30KM mark. Wanjiru made a move after the 40KM mark to move away from the only remaining runner with him, Deriba Merga of Ethopia. […]


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