Press Room

Published by: RAK Half Marathon
Category: Race News
Thu 09 Feb, 2012


The sixth RAK Half Marathon on February 17th, now a well-established IAAF Gold Label Road Race, promises even more than the usual fare in this tiny corner of the United Arab Emirates, which is saying a great deal for a race that can boast a number of world records and dozens of personal bests from the elite in the previous five editions, including Mary Keitany’s astonishing 65:50 world record just twelve months ago.

In both Men’s and Women’s line-ups, the names confirmed make clear that the RAK event is now widely identified as a perfect form-indicator and preparatory race for those elite men and women planning an April marathon which, this coming spring marathon season, might secure them an Olympic team berth.

The tiny but lion-hearted Keitany returns to the scene of this clockwise loop race that last year projected her towards a 2:19:19 victory in London eight weeks later and her inevitable status as one of the favourites for Olympic Marathon gold later this year. In spite of her ill-judged pacing and subsequent third place in New York last November - she reached half way at close to world record tempo, only to slow dramatically to a 2:23:38 clocking - it is hard to imagine a Kenyan Olympic squad without the 30 year old, but she will know that many more eyes watch her every result now than prior to record-shattering run at RAK 2011.

In addition, Keitany has returned gently to training after her wedding last December 31st and admits to not being in World Record shape, but in “only” around 67 minute form. She will need to be, because lined up against her is a high calibre field with no less than seven other athletes who have broken 70:00 for the half marathon, the fastest being Caroline Cheptanui Kilel (68:16), significantly the Boston Marathon champion last year in 2:22:36.

For their part, with nine boasting sub 60 minute bests, the men can justifiably claim a harder victory will be fought out after the early morning starter’s gun, particularly when one remembers that every one of the five editions so far has been won in well under the hour. Last year’s champion Deriba Merga does not run but in his place are several marathoning luminaries of 2011 from Kenya, such as Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest marathon runner ever after his wins last year in Boston (2:03:02) and New York (2:05:06), Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich who won in Otsu (2:06:13) and then Frankfurt (2:03:42), and Wilson Chebet, the Rotterdam (2:05:27) and Amsterdam (2:05:53) champion.

To underline the strength of the men’s line-up, other runners that just miss top billing such as Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and one of the most consistent marathon runners of the last four years, and Lelisa Desisa who won the Delhi Half Marathon in 59:30 in late November, would top the start list at most races. Likewise, after placing second here last year (59:44), Bernard Kipyego now knows the RAK course and with five sub 60 minute clockings in the last three years as well as the strength of a 2:06:29 third place in Chicago last October, will be a strong contender for a podium spot.

With pacemakers lined up for both Men and Women, two lightning quick races are in prospect once again in RAK. General entries have risen to almost 3,000 - a not insignificant number in the Emirates - and if conditions are good, who knows where this year’s times might get down to.

The RAK Half Marathon will be held on 17 February 2012 and is an IAAF Gold Label Race (Silver Label 2009, 2010, 2011) and a full member of the Association of Marathons and Distance Running (AIMS).

The RAK Half Marathon 2012 is presented by Saqr Port and supported by adidas, UPS, Al Ain Water, Capri Sun, RAK Hospital, Outdoor UAE, La Luna and RAK Police.

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Keitany Mary (JPEG, 1.3mb)
Mutai Geoffrey (JPEG 1.3mb)

Wilson Kipsang KiprotichKEN58:59
Bernard KipyegoKEN59:10
Wilson ChebetKEN59:15
Lelisa DesisaETH59:30
Geoffrey MutaiKEN59:30
Tsegay KebedeETH59:35
Azmeraw BekeleETH59:39
Kiplimo KimutaiKEN59:44
Fabiano JosephTAN59:56
Levy Matebo OmariKEN60:06
Joseph Nganga MareguKEN60:24
Feyisa LelisaETH60:33
Dennis Kipruto KoechKEN61:30A

Mary KeitanyKEN65:50
Caroline Cheptanui KilelKEN68:16
Hilda KibetKEN68:39
Feysa TadesseETH68:44
Aniko KalovicsHUN68:58
Georgina RonoKEN69:08
Gladys CheronoKEN69:26
Rose ChelimoKEN69:45
Serena BurlaUSA70:08

Brigadier Mradad continued by thanking all those involved, both past and present members of the Organizing Committee whose collective efforts have now led to the RAK Half Marathon being awarded the IAAF Gold Label certification, an honour preceded by 3 consecutive years of a Silver Label award, making it the first IAAF labelled race and the most frequently accredited road race in the region. The RAK Half Marathon has now joined only six other similar accredited half marathons in the world to bring added prestige to Ras Al Khaimah's tradition of world recording breaking in road racing.

Appreciation was also given to both Saqr Port, the event's presenting sponsor since its inception and also to other event partners, supporters and government agencies. Deputy Chairman Ghanem also assured the gathered media that preparations for the event were going well with a great deal of cooperation from multiple governmental departments. Special thanks were extended to His Excellency General Sheikh Taleb Bin Saqr Al Qasimi and RAK Police for securing the entire course for the thousands of runners making the event the only such race in the country to guarantee complete road closure for the extent of the course and duration of the race.

Hope was expressed that the general public and local businesses would attend and support this important community event.

General Manager of Saqr Port Authority, Captain Colin Crookshank, currently on an overseas trip sent his congratulations to the RAK Half Marathon Committee and added that the RAK Half Marathon "has become an event which is now firmly established on the world stage and whilst it continues to attract the world's best athletes, we should also show our support to the majority of non-elite runners from the local area and across the globe who participate for their own health, pleasure and on behalf on numerous charities."

General Event Coordinator Al Haranki informed those gathered that preparations for Race Day had been ongoing for well over 6 months and that the upcoming edition has seen a swell in participation by more than 10% as a record 2,953 individuals have signed up to run in either the Team Relay Challenge or the full half marathon distance. Al Haranki also pointed out that there has been an increase in overseas runners travelling in to this international event and that a total of 88 nationalities are now represented on the start line, it was suggested that last year's World Record had elevated the race to new heights.


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(L-R: Ghanem Ahmed Ghanem, Brigadier Naser Selim Mradad, Aaref Ibrahim Al Haranki)
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Further Information:
The RAK Half Marathon will be held on 17 February 2012 and is an IAAF Gold Label Race (Silver Label 2009, 2010, 2011) and a full member of the Association of Marathons and Distance Running (AIMS).

The RAK Half Marathon 2012 is presented by Saqr Port and supported by adidas, UPS, Al Ain Water, Capri Sun, RAK Hospital, Outdoor UAE, La Luna and RAK Police.

Organization by Premier Marathons