On Saturday, 7 September, all eyes will turn to the Birell Prague Grand Prix 5&10 km, an IAAF Gold Label race. Top Kenyan men, thirteen of them with personal best times better than 28 minutes, and a strong group of Europeans including Czechs will toe the start line looking for personal bests on the flat, fast Prague course. With last year’s champion, Rhonex Kipruto (26:46 number two all time), sidelined by the Kenyan Federation because he will run the World Championships in Doha next month the men’s field is wide open.
This year’s top seed is Kenyan Geoffrey Koech, who boasts the thirteenth best 10K performance of all time set here last year. He proved his current condition at this year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon with a time just over one hour, following up with a 10K of 28:04 in the Dutch town of Wierden.
The late entry of the young Kenyan, Mathew Kimeli, the winner of this year’s UAE Healthy Kidney 10k in New York and the runner up in the 2017 Birell Prague Grand Prix 5&10 km will add depth to the field. Nineteen-year-old Vincent Kiprotich Kibet also has a very bright future ahead with an excellent personal best of 27:21 from Berlin 2019. Other probable contenders include twenty-two year old Ethiopian Jemal Yimer Mekonnen with the fastest debut time in history in the half marathon as well as Vedic Kipkoech, who took bronze at this year’s 10K in Valencia. Another Kenyan worth watching will be Benard Kimeli who won the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon this year in 59:07 and ran 27:10 here in 2017.
The race has also earned worldwide prestige for the 10K women's world record set in 2017 and six of the top ten women's times in history. Now number three in the women’s rankings, Fancy Chemutai (30:06), will be keen to break thirty minutes. She ran what would have been a world record time here two years ago, however it happened just as Joyciline Jepkosgei delivered an even better time of 29:43 making Joyciline the world record holder. Fancy's primary competition this time is expected to come from her compatriots Gloria Kite, Norah Jeruto, and Dorcas Jepchumba Kimeli with a fresh personal best.
The German veteran, Arne Gabius, is expected to compete for European honours with two of his younger compatriots, Sebastian Hendel and Phillipp Pflieger, along with elites from another half dozen countries. Leading the men’s Czech field is the current national marathon champion Vít Pavlišta.
The leading European women in the field are Darya Mykhailova from Ukraine who has run 32:27 and Clara Evans of Great Britain who ran 33:20 in London this year. The Czech women’s field is led by thirty-two year old Hana Homolková whose most recent time of 36:08 makes her the local favourite.
The race will kick off tomorrow, Saturday 7th September at 19:30 CET and will be broadcast on Czech Television and streamed live at www.runczech.com.