Ten to watch at the 2017 Ottawa 10K
May 23 update: Yitayal Atnafu, Mohammed Ziani, Abdennacer Fathi, Simon Cheprot, Geoffrey Kusoro have been scratched
Yitayal Atnafu Zerihun – ETHIOPIA
Atnafu has been visible on the world stage since running 5000m in 13:08.13 (Oslo 2012) while still in his teens. But he is destined for even greater things on the roads. On April 9th the now 24 year old finished 4th in the Paris Marathon with a personal best of 2:07:21. Seven weeks is plenty of time to recover and prepare for what promises to be an exceptionally fast Ottawa 10km. A year ago he finished second in the Ottawa 10k.
Nicholas Bor – KENYA
Bor was the 2015 Ottawa 10k champion (27:55) winning the race just twenty-four hours after arriving in the Canadian capital. A missed flight connection was to blame. Presumably he will not have to endure such an issue this time around. The 29 year-old Bor has a personal best 10k time of 27:38 (2014 Prague) and can kick with the best of them.
Mohamed Ziani – MOROCCO
The defending Ottawa 10k champion out kicked the Ethiopian Yitayal Atnafu to win by a couple of steps in 28:37. He was third in the 2016 Casablanca 10k with a time of 27:28 although times from that race have not been IAAF ratified. On January 29th of this year, he set a course record of 60:28 to win the Casablanca Half Marathon. Until recently he was member of the Moroccan National Guard and trained at the national high altitude training camp in Ifrane high up in the Atlas Mountains. Can he successfully defend his title?
Simon Cheprot – KENYA
At 27 years of age, Cheprot is on a fast-paced trajectory. He was 6th in the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championship in Cardiff passing the 10k mark in a mighty quick 28:00. His best time for the 10k distance is 27:41 (Prague 2014). He finished second in the 2015 Ottawa 10k in 27:57 but was a disappointing 4th a year ago. Could this be the year in which he finally claims the Ottawa 10k?
Eric Gillis – CANADA
A three-time Canadian Olympian Gillis finished 10th in the Rio Olympic marathon and was planning to run Boston last month. However, a sore achilles forced him to reassess his goals. So, he will be back in Ottawa to contest the Canadian 10k Championship (he won here in 2015) not to mention tackle the leading East Africans. He has run 28:07.19 for 10000m although that was in 2008 when he qualified to represent Canada at the Beijing Olympics on the track. At full fitness he can challenge for a top five place.
Pascalia Chepkorir Kipkoech – KENYA
This 28 year-old Kenyan is a quality road racer having taken the bronze medal at the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Last year she placed 7th overall in those championships helping Kenya achieve the team gold medal. With a personal best 10k of 30:57 she will be formidable challenger in this IAAF Gold Label race.
Netsanet Gudeta – ETHIOPIA
A proven world-class distance runner, Gudeta took home the individual bronze medal in the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships helping Ethiopia to the team gold. Last year, she kept the momentum going when she finished 4th in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff (1:08:01). A personal best 10,000m time of 30:36.75 at the 2016 Fanny Blankers-Koen Games demonstrated her incredible versatility. This 26 year-old could well challenge the course record set in 2015 by Gladys Cherono (Kenya) 30:55.
Natasha Wodak – CANADA
A 2016 Canadian Olympian, Wodak qualified for Rio by setting a Canadian 10000m record in Palo Alto, California in April 2015 with a time of 31:41.59. Two years ago she finished 4th in the Ottawa 10k with a personal best of 31:59. She was 6th last year. Now 35 years old, her recent few years have seen tremendous progress. However, she is battling back from foot surgery last December. A victory at the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k on April 8th indicated her fitness was on the rise.
Amane Gobena – ETHIOPIA
Gobena set a personal best marathon time finishing 2nd at the 2016 Tokyo Marathon in 2:21:51, and this year she was 3rd in the same race (2:23:09). That was on February 26th. Now she sets her sights on Ottawa 10k. The 30 year-old Ethiopian is also an accomplished 10k runner sporting a best time of 32:12.
Edith Chelimo – KENYA
This 30 year-old Kenyan has a personal best of 31:07 set at the 2016 Parrelloop 10k in Holland following the birth of her first child in 2015. Last November she won the Lotto Baringo Half Marathon in Kenya, a race established by former Kenyan star Paul Tergat. On April 2nd she finished second in the Berlin Half Marathon in a new personal best of 1:08:57. Chelimo will be a force to contend with.