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Tadese, Kiplagat Headline IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships

Tadese, Kiplagat Headline IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships

Half-marathon world record holder and four-time IAAF World Half-Marathon champion Zersenay Tadese yet again headlines the men's field for the IAAF/SINOPEC World Half-Marathon Championships, which will be held on Saturday in Nanning, China.

The 28 year-old Tadese leads the field with a 58:23 personal best for the 21.1 km distance, the world record mark which he set last March in Lisbon. Tadese has won four straight half-marathon world titles, a stretch lasting from 2006 through 2009. His winning performance of 59:35 last year set a new championships record.

Tadese will face competition from a tough Kenyan team, which features four men who have run under 59:40. Sammy Kitwara is the fastest of the bunch, with a 58:58 personal best. Kitwara placed a disappointing tenth at last year's I championships in Birmingham, GBR. Joining him in the red and green Kenyan vests will be Wilson Kiprop, Silas Kipruto, Moses Mosop, and Titus Masai.

Utica Boilermaker champion Lelisa Desisa headlines the Ethiopian squad, with Abiyote Guta, Ali Abdosh, and Birhanu Bekele also competing.

Last year's fifth place finisher, Eritrea's Samuel Tsegay, also returns to try and better his showing from one year ago.

On the women's side, 2009 IAAF World Cross Country champion Florence Kiplagat will be toeing the line for the second half-marathon of her career. Kiplagat won her debut in Lille, France, last September with a time of 1:07:40. Also entered is 2008 Boston Marathon champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia, who has a personal best of 1:07:18.

Former IAAF World Cross Country champion and World Half-marathon bronze medallist Benita Willis of Australia will also be competing.

Watch out for Kenya's Peninah Arusei, who placed fifth at the half-marathon world championships in 2008. The 31 year-old also set a personal best in Lille earlier this year, finishing eight seconds behind Kiplagat in 1:07:48.

The women's championship record was set last year by Kenya's Mary Keitany in 1:06:36. Keitany will not be returning, as she will be running the ING New York City Marathon on November 7, instead.

The winners of the IAAF/SINOPEC World Half-Marathon Championships will receive USD 30,000, part of a prize purse of USD 245,000. Also up for grabs is the team title, which the winners will earn USD 15,000.

By Chris Lotsbom (c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved; Used with permission