Barsoton, Salpeter lead Kolkata 25K fields
- Kenya's Leonard Barsoton and Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele will go toe to toe at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K which will be held on December 15
- In the women's race, the European 10,000m champion Lonah Salpeter of Israel will be looking to add to her list of accolades after winning won the Prague Marathon in May
Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton and Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele will go toe to toe at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K which will be held on December 15.
Barsoton is the 2017 world cross-country silver medallist, while Bekele was a world indoor champion over 3000m in 2008 and four years later earned 10,000m bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The duo will face competition from Eritrea’s Tsegay Tuemay and Ethiopia’s Bayelign Yegsaw who will return to the city widely regarded as the ‘cultural capital’ of India having finished second in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
In the women’s race, the European 10,000m champion Lonah Salpeter of Israel will be looking to add to her list of accolades after winning won the Prague Marathon in May in a stunning national record of 2:19:46.
After dropping out of the marathon at the recent World Athletics Championships, she recovered quickly and finished fourth at last month’s Frankfurt Marathon in 2:23:11.
Next month’s race in Kolkata won’t be Salpeter’s first official outing over 25km; she won in Berlin over the distance in 2017 in 1:28.48. However, she had a 25km split of 1:23:25 during her Prague Marathon win and if Salpeter is in anything close to this shape she could make huge inroads into the Kolkata course record of 1:26:01 set by Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw in 2017.
Salpeter’s path to her current position as one of the world’s leading distance runners is far from a conventional one.
Born in Kenya, her early years were spent living in a small rural village in the west of the country that had no electricity or running water, but she nevertheless did well enough at school to earn a job as a nanny to the Kenyan ambassador to Israel.
Moving there in 2008, she started running after arriving in Israel just to keep fit. However, in 2011 she met Israeli international runner Dan Salpeter and the pair married three years later.
Her husband, who is also her coach, saw her potential as a runner and by 2013 she was winning national titles. Her ascent has been upwards ever since and she now has numerous national records to her name from the 1500m to the marathon.
Salpeter is the star name making her way to Kolkata but the elite women’s field contains several other talented runners.
Tanzania’s Failuna Matanga has finished third in Kolkata for two years in succession and she will come obviously motivated to move up a place or two on the podium.
Ethiopia’s Birke Debele and Guteni Shone have won marathons this year in Riga and Seville respectively, and should also be bidding for one of the leading positions.
Kenenisa Bekele’s course record of 1:13:48, set when the Ethiopian distance running legend competed in Kolkata two years ago, is a tall order for any runner, but gives a target for everyone to aim at.
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