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10K world record holder Ethiopian Yehualaw, double world silver-medallist Kenya’s Ebenyo to make headline debuts at Kolkata 25K 2023

IANS | December 05, 2023 12:10 PM

KOLKATA: The Kolkata 25K, the World athletics elite label road race, will be headlined by 10K world record-holder Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw in the women’s category and two-time world championship silver medallist Kenyan Daniel Simiyu Ebenyo in the men’s category.

It will witness some of the world’s best athletes take centre stage at the US $100, 000 prize money race. With equal prize money for the men and women winners, the first three in each race stand to win $7500, $5000 and $3500. The International Elite runners will be further incentivised by an Event Record Bonus of US $3, 000.

The current event record, in the Men’s category, stands in the name of Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton with a timing of 1:12:49 and the Women’s record in the name of Bahrain’s Desi Jisa with a timing of 1:21:04.

Making her debut at the 25K here, 10K world record-holder (29:14 in 2022) Yehualaw is the leading lady to watch among the women runners. She also sits second on the world all-time list at the half marathon with a time of 1:03:51 set in 2021.

Yehualaw broke the world 10km record in the Castellón 10K, clocking 29:14 at the World Athletics Label Road race held in the Spanish coastal city, last year. In doing so, the world half marathon bronze medallist improved the ratified record of 29:43 by Joyciline Jepkosgei and the yet-to-be-ratified mark of 29:38 set by Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne. She also became the first woman in history to dip under the 29:30 and 29:20 barriers on the roads.

Yehualaw took her first victory in a World Marathon Major at the 2022 London Marathon, becoming the youngest-ever female winner of the event. “I’m happy to run in India once again. My experiences so far have been amazing, and I hope to add another great experience in Kolkata at TSK 25K. I am coming to Kolkata to run fast and I look forward towards the race on December 17th, ” said Yehualaw about her participation in TSK 25K.

Her teammate Anchinalu Dessie and Kenya's Betty Chepkemoi Kibet are the main challengers for Yehualaw. Just 20 years old, Dessie set a half marathon PB of 1:07:30 in Milan this year, while Kibet has a half marathon best of 1:06:37, set in the 2021 Roma-Ostia event. In addition, Ethiopia’s Emebet Niguse, winner of the Drammen Half Marathon 2023 edition, together with Uganda's Mercyline Chelangat, the third placer in Kolkata last year, are expected to provide stout competition in the women’s race.

Kenya’s Daniel Simiyu Ebenyo won two world championship silver medals this year, firstly at 10, 000m in Budapest last August, and then at a half marathon in Riga at the inaugural World Road Running Championships, before easily winning the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon in October. His Kolkata appearance will be his debut at the 25K distance.

His compatriots Roncer Kipkorir Konga and Bernard Biwott, with sub-60-minute half marathon bests, are expected to push Ebenyo for the top podium position. Roncer finished seventh in the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon after improving his PB to 59:08 while taking the title in Buenos Aires in August, while Biwott posted an early world lead of 59:44 in January when winning in Santa Pola, Spain.

The stacked men’s field also features, Eritrean marathon national record-holder and multiple-distance running specialist Hiske Tewelde, who will be the dark horse.

Speaking about the immensely competitive international athlete line-up in the elite category Vivek Singh, Joint MD, Procam International, said: “We are very happy that each year we have grown as an elite race and the line-up speaks for itself. We have some of the best distant runners in the world participating in the TSK 25K, making it one of the most sought-after races at this distance. The presence of seasoned winners like Daniel Ebenyo and Yalemzerf Yehualaw will not only raise the bar for the race but also give our Indian distance runners much-needed exposure to some of the world’s best distance athletes.”

With such a star-studded line-up this edition of the running festival is looking at yet more records being set on the banks of the Hooghly when the thousands of runners will tackle the 25K distance on December 17, 2023.

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