With fast races and deep fields the Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon has recently established itself among the world’s best races at the distance. This year’s edition continues on that path. On Sunday, April 28th, the 19th annual event will take place. The current elite start list features 18 runners who holds personal bests of sub 61:00 and nine women who have already run faster than 68:00. There are only very few other half-marathons in the world that can match Istanbul’s depth.

The men

Ethiopia’s Solomon Berihu is currently the fastest athlete on the list with a PB of 59:17 while Gladys Chepkurui of Kenya heads the women’s field with 65:46.

Men’s field from 2023. Photo credit: Spor International

Berihu’s best is just two seconds slower than Istanbul’s course record, set by Kenya’s Rodgers Kwemoi two years ago in windy conditions. It remains to be seen if the 59:15 record will be challenged next month. While Berihu is the fastest on paper a fellow Ethiopian has shown lately that he is in good form: Dinkalem Ayele clocked a personal best of 59:30 for fourth place in Barcelona earlier this year. He then went on to take the prestigious Lisbon Half Marathon earlier this month. Running in very warm conditions and without a pacemaker for much of the distance his winning time of 60:36 would most likely have been much faster in different circumstances. 

Twenty-three-year-old Dinkalem Ayele is the third fastest on the start list behind Berihu and Edmond Kipngetich. The Kenyan clocked 59:25 in Copenhagen two years ago. He has consistently run fast half marathon times, clocking times below 60:00 four times in the past three years. A runner from Kenya with a prominent name could be in for a surprise: Solomon Kipchoge, who is not related to the double Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge, must still be regarded as a newcomer despite being 27. He first raced in Europe in 2022, when he clocked 62:00 in Italy’s Trento Half Marathon. Last year Kipchoge improved significantly when he finished fifth in Lille with 59:37. 

Canadian Cameron Levins might well try to challenge the African favourites. A year ago he broke the Canadian half marathon record when he won the First Half race in Vancouver in 60:18. In October he won the Royal Victoria Half Marathon and set the course record at 61:18.

The women

In the women’s field, the fastest runner on the start list has shown great consistency in the half marathon. Gladys Chepkurui clocked her personal best of 65:46 in Barcelona last year. She finished fourth in the fast race. The 29-year-old has already run the half marathon under 70:00 on 11 occasions. Last year she competed at eight races over her favourite distance, winning three of them and finishing runner-up three times. Chepkurui already showed fine form this year, when she was third in Barcelona and second in New York with 66:34 and 69:27 respectively. 

Ftaw Zeray is another athlete whose focus is very much on the half marathon. Last year was her best so far. The Ethiopian took third in the competitive Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates with 66:04, which remains her personal best. Zeray then was sixth in the World Half Marathon Championships in Riga, Latvia. This performance suggests that the 26-year-old should be able to improve her personal best. 

Sheila Chelangat is an athlete who has just run her half-marathon debut. The Kenyan was runner-up in Lille this March with 69:38. She has been a good track runner, featuring a fine PB of 14:40.51 in the 5,000 m. After a solid debut in Lille, there is more to come from her.

Italy’s Giovana Epis is an experienced marathon runner, who was 12th at the World Championships in Budapest last year and has fine PB of 2:23:46. In the half marathon she has not yet broken 70:00 which she should be well capable of. Epis’ personal best stands at 70:15 and she is the leading European entrant of the Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon.

More information and online entry at: https://www.istanbulyarimaratonu.com/en/

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