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Uganda has arrived on the international athletics scene and two of the very best athletes in the world are about to go head-to-head in New York City.

The New York City Half Marathon happening Sunday, March 19 promises to offer 25,000 runners “one of the world’s premier half marathons.”

The race features Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda. He owns the Tokyo Olympic gold medal from the 5000m event at 12:58.15 and three world records in the 5000m, 10,000m and the road 15K best. Cheptegei is one of two athletes favoured to win, however, he is up against fellow Ugandan, Jacob Kiplimo, who holds the world half marathon record from Lisbon 2021. The 22-year-old ran the race (20 at the time) in 57:31 two years ago. On February 18, he won the 2023 Bathurst World Cross Country Championships.

America’s fastest current marathon runner Galen Rupp looks to have a rebound in his career. He was formerly coached by the now banned Alberto Salazar with the defunct Nike Oregon Project. Rupp owns a best of 59:47 and a marathon best of 2:06:07 both from 2018. The 36-year-old has little to show for his post NOP career, however, in Jacksonville, FLA in 2022 at the USATF 15K road championships he performed well with a 43:31 personal best run.

The women’s field is perhaps led by Ethiopian Senberi Teferi. She has run the half-marathon as fast as 65:32 in Valencia back in 2019. Two years ago she set the world 5K road record at 14:29, which still stands. Kenyan Hellen Obiri has run on the roads just as fast, in fact her 5K road best is just one second slower at 14:30 meanwhile, she owns a 5000m best of 14:18.37 which is the Kenyan record. Obiri is the two-time defencing 5000m Olympic Champion. As she makes her transition to the road, essentially the marathon the 33-year-old continues to run at the top of the elite level having gone 64:22 at the Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates race in February 2022. Obiri’s debut marathon time was 2:25:49 which was run on the streets of New York — not considered a fast course.

Molly Huddle is the top American with a best of 67:25 from 2018. The question for the 38-year-old is will she have someone to run with, draft off and compete against? If so, she can meet that time and take third, however, it has been three years since she has performaned at that level with her 15K and one-hour national records (in the same race) at Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, MA, where she ran 50:07.82 for 15K on the way to her 17.93K one-hour national record run.

Race director Ted Mettelus said, “We are excited to provide a platform for all participants – from our neighbors next door to professional athletes to the youth and future of our sport – to create a healthier, more active lifestyle. On Sunday, we will celebrate those partaking in this event and racing under the bright lights of Times Square.”