(Reuters) – The Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) half-marathon, which bills itself as the world’s fastest such race, is set to be even quicker next month because its course has been changed to take in some of the new man-made Al Marjan Island, organizers said on Tuesday.
The RAK, to be held on Feb. 8 in the United Arab Emirates, bases its claim of being the world’s fastest half-marathon on the average time taken by its top 10 men and women’s finishers compared with the top 10 fastest times across all races.
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir, who won the race in a world record time in 2017, returns to the circuit after taking a maternity break in 2018.
Jepchirchir joins a strong women’s field that includes world half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia, the current world record holder and the UAE’s Alia Mohammed Saeed, who will carry home hopes at the race.
Ethiopia’s Abadi Hadis is the quickest runner in the men’s race courtesy of his third-placed finish at the Valencia half-marathon last year in a time of 58 minutes, 44 seconds.
Kenya duo Jorum Okombo and Alex Korio will offer the stiffest competition to Hadis, having both run half-marathons in under 59 minutes in their careers.
Kenyans Daniel Kipchumba and Stephen Kiprop, who have both gone under the 60-minute mark, are the next-fastest runners on the men’s list.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar