A HUGE field of 800 participants, including a large number of elite athletes from around the world, are set to compete tonight in the inaugural Bahrain Night Half-Marathon starting at 8pm at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa, Zallaq.
This was revealed yesterday by Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) board member and Bahrain Athletics Association (BAA) secretary general Eng. Bader Nasser at the official pre-race press conference at Hotel Golden Tulip in Manama.
The prestigious race is being held under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad and organised by BAA in cooperation with International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, BOC, Asian Athletics Association and Tumooh Sports Management.
The event features separate categories for men and women over 21.1kms while there are also six-km events for those who want to run for fun and be a part of the biggest half-marathon in the region.
The participants include some of the biggest names in international long-distance running, such as world record holder in half-marathon Abraham Kiptum of Kenya.
Kiptum was upbeat yesterday heading into tonight’s event despite it being his first night race. Just last September he set his world record of 58 minutes 18 seconds in Valencia, Spain, and is confident he can maintain his fine form in Bahrain.
“Let’s hope we can be as strong as we can be,” Kiptum told the GDN. “Although it is my first night race, if the weather is good, the pace is good and if we can be strong, then we shall have a good time.
“I always train in the mornings so it is a little new to me, but I’ll do my best.”
Among the men’s elite runners who are expected to challenge Kiptum are Ethiopian Jemal Yimer Mekonnen and Bahraini Hassan Shani.
Among the women, reigning world champion and world record holder of a women-only race Netsanet Gudeta Kebede of Ethiopia is one of the pre-race favourites as is reigning women’s full marathon world champion Rose Chelimo of Bahrain.
Rose’s fellow-Bahraini Eunice Chumba, who is a bronze-medallist at last year’s World Half-Marathon Championships, will also be competing along with Ethiopian Senbere Teferi, who is a former gold-medallist in the World Cross Country Championships and a former silver medallist in the 5,000m.
Mekonnen, Shani, Netsanet, Eunice and Senebre were present with Nasser and Kiptum at yesterday’s press conference along with BAA technical director Taher Righi and renowned Ethiopian coach Haji Adilo.
“It is very important for us to do well in this race, especially since we are representing Bahrain. We will try our best to get a good time and also win,” said Eunice.
The men and women winners receive a prize money of $100,000 each. All runners finishing in the top ten in both categories will also win cash prizes.
There are bonuses of $30,000 for new world records.
For more information visit www.bahrainhalfmarathon.bh.