Ethiopian teenager Amdework Walelegnat will look to continue his fine early season momentum at the sixth edition of the Okpekpe International 10km, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Saturday (12).
Walelegn, 19, arrives on the heels of two recent solid performances. On 17 March he clocked a fast 27:37 to win the 10 Km Villa de Laredo in Spain, then on 8 April pulled off a stunning victory at the Istanbul Half Marathon in 59:50, a Turkish all-comers record.
He’ll face compatriot Asefa Mengistu Negewo, 33, whose 2018 season includes a solid 2:04:06 marathon clocking in Dubai where he finished fourth. What that will mean over 10km is however, anyone’s guess.
Kenya comes well armed. John Kiprono Langat brings a 27:58 lifetime best to the line, set in 2015. More recently he clocked 29:17 at home in Nyahururu. Another Kenyan, Victor Chumo, finished second at the Venloop Half Marathon in March, clocking 1:00:10.
Meanwhile, 38-year-old Josphat Kiprono Menjo is one of the fastest men ever over the distance, with a 27:04 lifetime best. That was in 2010. In January he clocked 28:28 in Valencia.
The men’s course record stands at 28:35, set by Teshome Mekonen Asafah in 2014. Wude Ayalew set the women’s record of 32:41, also in 2014. She’s back this year but has raced sparingly in recent years. Her 31:07 lifetime best dates back to 2010.
The focus will clearly fall on Sandra Tuei, the world leader at 30:57 set in Valencia in early January. On paper, nobody comes close.
Ruth Chepngetich has displayed the best range of the entrants, from a 33:09 personal best in the 10km in early February to a 2:22:59 runner-up finish at the Paris Marathon one month ago. In between, she was 13th at the World Half Marathon Championships Valencia, clocking 1:09:12.
Others to watch include Uganda’s Juliet Chekwel, seventh in the Commonwealth 10,000m last month in 31:57.97, Diana Chemtai, who clocked 1:07:55 at the Istanbul Half Marathon, finishing third, and 21-year-old Dera Dida of Ethiopia, who clocked a 2:21:45 personal best at the Dubai Marathon.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF