8 Athletes to Watch at the 2018 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

*Update: Haile Lemi Berhanu will not be running.

Four Men to Watch

Eliud Kiptanui, Kenya, 28

The defending Ottawa champion was a late addition to the 2017 field after failing to finish the Vienna Marathon four weeks earlier. Visa problems were the issue at that time and he only arrived in Austria the day before the race. Clearly a world-class marathoner, he has a personal best of 2:05:21 from the 2015 Berlin marathon. When he won Ottawa last year, it was a decisive move in the final three kilometres that earned him the victory. He finished 5th in the 2018 Paris Marathon on April 8th with a time of 2:08:20.

Yemane Tsegay, Ethiopia, 33

Tsegay beat a world-class field and a heavy fog to win the 2014 Ottawa Marathon in a (then) Canadian All Comers’ and Ottawa race record with 2:06:54. That performance earned him a Hyundai SUV in addition to the prize money. He went on to finish 2nd in the 2015 Boston Marathon before claiming a silver medal for Ethiopia at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Tsegay was 3rd in the 2016 Boston Marathon and ended that year with a victory at Fukuoka. He has a personal best of 2:04:48 from winning the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon.

Deriba Robi, Ethiopia, 27

Ottawa will be Robi’s third marathon of the year after running 2:12:09 for 4th place in January’s Xiamen Marathon (China) then 2:08:51 at the Seoul Marathon in March. This is normal fair for the 27-year-old Ethiopian who knows a thing or two about marathoning. Indeed, his personal best is 2:05:58 from the 2015 Eindhoven Marathon. He finished second on that occasion and believes he can run faster.

Adugna Takele Bikila, Ethiopia, 29

Takele has a personal best marathon time of 2:08:31 set at the 2014 Frankfurt Marathon. That same year he represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships where he finished 9th. At 29 he is approaching his peak years and his personal best half marathon time (59:40 Prague 2016) indicates he can run faster at the full marathon distance. Earlier this year he finished 7th in the Prague Marathon (2:10:54). That was in January. More recently he finished 4th in the Ethiopian Championships 10,000m running 28:37.4 at 8,000 feet altitude, a good indication he will be ready for Ottawa.

Four Women to Watch

Hiwot Gebrekidan, Ethiopia, 23

Hiwot has been a standout international runner since snatching the 3,000m silver medal at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships. She won Israel’s Tiberias Marathon in January 2017 with an impressive 2:25:45 personal best. At last year’s Ottawa Marathon, she built up a huge lead but faded in the last few kilometres. Still, she hung on for second place in 2:30:53. Now she is determined to learn from her mistake of going out too fast. On April 8th of this year, she finished second at the Cherry Blossom 10 mile in an excellent 53:48. She celebrated her 23rd birthday on May 11th.

Sara Hall, USA, 35

Although her personal best is just 2:27:21 from the 2017 Frankfurt, where she was 5th, she has the knack of getting near the front of all her races. She was 3rd in the 2016 New York Marathon and 2nd in the 2015 Chicago marathon, both part of the World Marathon Majors. Hall, who is married to retired US marathoner Ryan Hall (second fastest American ever at 2:06:17), won the 2017 US marathon title in Sacramento (2:28:10). So far in 2018 she has tested herself over the half marathon twice winning the Tampa Half Marathon in 1:12:01 just three weeks after a 1:11:25 clocking at the Marugame Half in Japan.

Lucy Karimi, Kenya, 31

This is Karimi’s seventh year of marathon running and she is hoping to improve upon her personal best time of 2:24:46 set in winning the 2016 Prague Marathon. Her personal best half marathon time of 1:08:43 indicates she has potential to run faster still. A year ago, she finished 3rd in Rotterdam with 2:25:17. Victories in Milan (2015) and, earlier in her career, at the Buenos Aires marathon in 2012 and 2013 have given her a wealth of experience. This year, she has tested herself once finishing 6th at the Menlo Half Marathon in the Netherlands.

Gelete Burka, Ethiopia, 32

One of Ethiopia’s most versatile runners, Burka has won medals at the world indoor championships (1,500m gold in 2008) world outdoor championships (10,000m silver in Beijing 2015) and in world cross country (gold in 2006 in Fukuoka). She has twice represented her country at the Olympic Games (2012 London and 2016 Rio) and so it was only a matter of time before she made an impact in the marathon. Earlier attempts proved less than expected – her debut was at the 2013 Frankfurt Marathon where she ran 2:30:40. Earlier this year though she showed the form we have come to expect from her finishing 6th in Dubai with a huge personal best of 2:20:45.