NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 29 – Defending champion and three-time winner Cornelius Kangogo will be aiming to win for a fourth time at the Corrida Pedestre Internationale de Houilles when the 46th edition of the IAAF Silver Label road race takes place in the Paris suburbs on Sunday.
Kangogo is aiming to become the second most prolific winner in race history. Although he still has some way to match Khalid Skah’s tally of eight victories, he could equal Jacky Boxberger, who won the event four times.
In both 2015 and 2016 Kangogo had unleashed a strong but frantic kick to win in a blanket finish, and last year the top four finishers were credited with the same time of 28:19. The 23-year-old Kenyan may well decide to stick to his tried-and-tested tactic on Sunday.
Kangogo, who clocked his PB of 27:58 in Houilles back in 2013, prevailed in Dongio in April in a season’s best of 28:14 and then improved his half marathon personal best to 1:01:05 in March before turning his attention to the track for the summer.
One of his – if not the – main opponents should be Jemal Yimer. Second in Houilles last year, the 21-year-old Ethiopian finished fifth in the 10,000m at the IAAF London World Championships in a PB of 26:56:11. His 10km road PB of 27:54, set one month later in Prague, makes him the fastest entrant of the field.
Yimer, who finished fourth at this year’s World Cross Country Championships, won the challenging 20km classic Marseille-Cassis race two month ago.
Switzerland’s Julien Wanders will also be contesting for the victory. The 21-year-old never shies away from taking command of the race, as he did last year.
He wound up sixth last year in a best of 28:22, just three seconds shy of Kangogo, a mark he improved to 28:13 in Durban in October where he took the third place.
Callum Hawkins is another podium contender. The Briton improved both his half marathon and marathon PBs this year, clocking 1:00:00 over 13.1 miles in February and then finishing fourth in the marathon at the World Championships in 2:10:57.
Although his official PB for 10km is 29:12, Hawkins passed through 10 kilometres in 28:28 en route to his half marathon victory in Marugame earlier this year.
Precious Mashele of South Africa, Elias Haji Hayato of Ethiopia and Elias Kiptoo Kemboi of Kenya also cannot be discounted. The latter prevailed in Swansea in a PB of 28:20 in September. Mashele won in Cape Town in a PB of 28:33, while Hayato has a PB of 28:14 set in 2014.
Florian Carvalho leads the French contingent. The 28-year-old made an impressive debut over 20km in Paris in October, finishing third in 58:40.
The 2012 European 1500m silver medallist will be targeting a finishing time within 28:30; he recorded his best of 28:46 at the challenging Rome 10km two years ago.
Other French hopes will rest on Yoann Kowal, whose aim will be to improve his 29:01 PB set in Houilles six years ago.
The course record is 27:47 set by Imane Merga in 2010.
Ndiwa leads women’s field
Kenya’s Stacy Ndiwa appears to be the marginal favourite in the women’s race.
The 25-year-old, who finished fifth at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships, has set two PBs at 10km this year: 31:37 in Prague and 31:27 in Ziwa.
Compatriot Magdelene Masai looks to be her main opponent. She is the second fastest woman of the field, courtesy of her 31:44 clocking from New York in April. But the former steeplechase specialist finished 1:38 behind Ndiwa in Ziwa earlier this month, running 33:15.
Britain’s Katrina Wooton will also be a woman to watch. Second in 2016 in a PB of 31:47, she essentially matched that time on the track at the end of this summer with a time of 31:45:63.
Kenyan Dorcas Tutoek may also have a role to play following her third place in Durban in October, where she lowered her best to 32:12.
Ethiopia’s world U20 steeplechase bronze medallist Agrie Belachew and Eritrea’s Mekdes Woldu, who has a best of 32:53, should also feature in the battle for the podium.