Rwanda’s ace athlete Dieudonne Disi returns to the European road races this afternoon as he battles elite athletes in the Paris Half marathon.
Four men in the field have ran under the 1:00:22 course standard set by Kenyan Joseph Maregu in 2007, indicating that the one-hour barrier could be broken if conditions cooperate in the French capital.
On paper the fastest is Disi, a regular fixture on the French road race scene, who has a 59:32 performance to his credit from the 2007 World Road Running Championships in Udine, Italy, where he finished a solid sixth in a very deep race. In October the 31-year-old won the 20.3Km Marseille-Cassis Road Race.
Other sub-one hour men in the field include Kenyan Jairus Chanchima who clocked 59:43 in Lille last year, and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa who just dipped under the mark (59:59) in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
The Paris half marathon will be Disi’s second competitive championship this year, after January’s San Blas half marathon in Puerto Rico where he finished sixth.
Over 27,000 participants are expected to run in Paris with the winner pocketing 40,000 Euros (Rfw31m).
After today’s showdown, Disi will switch his focus to the longer version (Paris full marathon) slated for April 5.
In the women field, a trio of sub-1:10 runners, led by Ethiopian Atsede Baysa. Baysa produced her personal best of 1:09:15 on the fast course in Udine, Italy, at the 2007 World Road Running Championships where she finished 11th.
The 22-year-old has already achieved noteworthy success in the Marathon, collecting wins in Paris (2:24:42) last year and in Xiamen (2:28:53) this year. Obviously, she is no stranger to the avenues and boulevards of Paris.
On paper her compatriot Tsegaye Beyene is just a few steps behind with a 1:09:24 best to her credit, a run that brought her a notable sixth place showing at last year’s World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham.
Others to watch include Kenyan Gladys Cherono (1:09:26) whose personal best came in Valladolid, Spain, last year.
Ethiopians Melkam Gisaw and Halima Beriso, still teenagers, will be making their debuts over the distance. Gisaw has a 2:31:55 Marathon best from Reims last year where she was second.
The women’s course record is 1:09:37 set by Alina Tecuta of Romania back in 1997.