Updated from BMO Media Release

An increase in elite athlete prizing money has successfully drawn an impressive local and international elite roster to the 2015 BMO Vancouver Marathon. With goals to break the event’s Marathon record, race organizers have increased the cash prizing making it the largest amount offered in recent history. The current field of elite Marathon and Half Marathon runners is drawn from nearly 10 countries with Berhanu Mekonnen, Paul Kimugul and Ellie Greenwood returning to claim champion status.

Kimugul, however, has been experiencing injury issues and had to drop out of two races recently, the Vancouver Sun Run and the Victoria Times Colonist 10K.

First place Marathoners have the potential to win up to $11,500 when a $2,000 bonus is added for the winning male and female with times under 2.18.00 and 2.37.00, respectfully.

The 2014 Marathon champion, Berhanu Mekonnen of Ethiopia will defend his title and winning time of 2:21:08. Four-time BMO Vancouver Marathon winner, Thomas Omwenga of Kenya also returns, having clocked a personal best of 2:15:59 on the Vancouver Marathon course in 2008. Kenyan runner, Gilbert Kiptoo who was last year’s runner-up will add to the tough competition.

“I want to run again with a better time in Vancouver,” says Mekonnen. “It is a beautiful city. Before, during and after the BMO Vancouver Marathon, the people of Vancouver were very encouraging.  I will never forget it.”

Current Half Marathon record-holder, Paul Kimugul has his sights set on the Marathon title this year. Winning the Half Marathon and breaking the event record in 2013 and 2014, Kimugul has decided to compete in the Marathon due to the increased prize money. Saeki Makino of Japan will run for the first time in Vancouver and is sure to challenge the top five elite athletes with a personal best of 2.20.59 (Seoul, 2013).

Local favourite and top Masters runner, Graeme Wilson who has run the BMO Vancouver Marathon six times and the Half Marathon twice, will be amongst the Marathon challengers. Another addition to the strong male Marathon field is Canadian, Matt Normington who will travel from Edmonton to compete, aiming to beat his personal best of 2.20.49 (Ottawa, 2007). The Marathon event record stands as 2.13.14 and was set in 1980.

In the women’s Marathon division, North Vancouver elite runner and 2014 Comrades Ultra Marathon champion, Ellie Greenwood will attempt to reclaim her title. Greenwood achieved her personal best of 2.42.16 in Vancouver when she won the 2012 BMO Vancouver Marathon. Greenwood was also last year’s runner up. “The BMO Vancouver Marathon is my hometown race and is always a fun day to share the experience,” says Greenwood.

Challenging Greenwood is Wayinshet Abebe Hailu of Ethiopia who ran last year and is aiming to come back stronger than ever and achieve a sub 2.37.00 time. Canadian marathoners, Lloudmila Kortchaguina (personal best of 2.29.42 in Ottawa, 2006) and Kristen Smart (personal best of 2.49 in Chicago, 2014) are other top contenders. The women’s Marathon event record was set in 2007 at 2.35.50.

Half Marathon
First place Half Marathoners may win up to $3,600.

Late entries added to the field are two Kenyans who both raced in the Vancouver Sun Run and the Victoria Times Colonist 10K, they are Benard Ngeno and Leonard Koech (also known as Kipkoech). In Vancouver, Ngeno finished seventh in the time of 30:05. Koech finished third crossing the line in 29:05. Koech was bettered only by American Luke Puskedra, who finished in the time of 28:53 and Daniel Kipkoech who finished in the time of 28:58.

“I would like to win the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon and finish in the time of about 63-minutes,” Said Koech.

Prior to the Sun Run race, both Ngeno and Koech had travelled for over two days straight arriving late the night before the race started. Koech and Benard were looking for top-three positions the following weekend in Victoria, however, Kelly Wiebe of Vancouver, who had a little bit of a rough race at the Sun Run (30:01 – 6th), raced very well and won convincingly at the TC10K in the time of 29:08, by running a large negative split, on the course that typically produces times that are 20 or 30 seconds slower than what are achieved in the Sun Run.

The men’s half-marathon field is led by former champion and course record-holder Kip Kangogo, who will be participating in his sixth BMO Vancouver Marathon. Dancan Kasia of Kenya will compete against Kangogo for the winning title. Kasia recently placed second in the Victoria Marathon and has a personal best of 1.02.15 – faster than the course record. James Lander from the US will challenge Kangogo and Kasia as he is running the Half Marathon to prep for an Olympic qualifying marathon time. The men’s Half Marathon record was dropped in 2014 to 1.02.36.

In the women’s Half Marathon division, 2014 runner-up, American Allison Macsas returns to try and claim champion status. Macsas recently achieved her personal best of 1:13:03 in the Austin Half Marathon last month.

“This race has become an annual must thanks to the fast course, beautiful scenery, top-notch organization and overwhelmingly friendly atmosphere,” states Macsas. “I tell everyone I know to make the trip, and they never regret it!”

Tonya Nero, Trinidad/Tobago Marathon and Half Marathon champion, will challenge Macsas for the first time in Vancouver. This May 3rd, both runners are keen to break the event record of 1.12.33 that was set in 1996.

With a strong competitive elite field for 2015, fans and spectators are encouraged to gather in the 12 neighbourhoods surrounding the BMO Vancouver Marathon and cheer on runners during the May 3rd event.