After Two-Year Gap, Riga Welcomes Many World and Baltic Running Elite runners10 May 2022
On May 15 Rimi Riga Marathon will welcome world running stars who have climbed podiums in Berlin, Valencia, Eindhoven, Dubai, Barcelona, Cape Town, Ottawa, Osaka, Sydney, and other prestigious marathons. Of two Label Races – marathon and half-marathon – it’s the half-marathon race, which has attracted most international attention for giving runners the opportunity to test out the intended World Road Running Championships Riga 23 course this year. Rimi Riga Marathon organisers invite the public to follow their races to find out the winners of two Latvian championships in the marathon and mile. Thanks to the new courses and top participants, the race’s records and possibly even Latvian records are expected to be beaten.
As a trademark event for the city, the Rimi Riga Marathon annually gathers thousands of running enthusiasts as well as high-ranking professionals. As the race returns to its traditional May date, the Rimi Riga Marathon will be welcoming many global, Baltic and Latvian elite runners for the first time since 2019.
Dmitrijs Serjogins will try and beat the Latvian half-marathon record
Bearing in mind that the Riga courses are flat and fast and that the personal records of the 2022 race favourites are higher than current Rimi Riga Marathon records, organisers expect the Rimi Riga Marathon’s marathon and half marathon records, including the Latvian men’s half marathon record, to be beaten.
Dmitrijs Serjogins, co-holder of the Latvian men’s half marathon record, is determined to challenge the Latvian record: “After an active season in Spain, I feel good about the experience I have gained in the half marathon, and if conditions are favourable, I am ready to improve my personal record, which is also the Latvian half-marathon record.” We should add that there are two co-holders of the Latvian half-marathon record (1:04:43): Dmitrijs Serjogins (2021) and the Latvian marathon record holder Valērijs Žolnerovičs (2011).
In the men’s half marathon, organisers expect a thrilling duel between Serjogins and the second-fastest member of the Latvian team, My First Marathon trainer Jānis Višķers, who won 1st place in the Rimi Riga Marathon 21.0975 km race in 2019 and is the proud holder of a powerful personal record (1:04:56, 2019). The Latvian runners will also face stiff competition from Estonian Roman Fosti (PB 1:03:03, 2020), who is determined to put up a good result in Riga.
Meanwhile, the Latvian favourite in the women’s half marathon, Rio Olympic athlete Ilona Marhele (PB 1:16:09, 2016), will face her toughest competition from 25-year old Lithuanian Lina Kiriliuk (PB 1:18:31, 2020), who made her debut in the Riga Marathon in 2018. We will see on May 15th whether either of these Baltic runners will be able to beat the Rimi Riga Marathon 21.0975 km women’s record. This result is still held by legendary Latvian long-distance runner Jeļena Prokopčuka. Prokopčuka’s Riga half-marathon result (1:10:27) has remained unbeaten since 2012, but we expect that one of the competitors from Africa could beat it this year.
Follow the Latvian favourites in the Latvia In The World team
With the support of DPD and under the auspices of the Rimi Riga Marathon, the Latvia In The World team gathers Latvia’s most talented long and medium distance runners to support them in their travels and in running the World Road Running Championships, which will take place in Riga for the first time in 2023. Their efforts kick off this year in the DPD Mile, 6 km, 10 km and half marathon distances. Latvia will be represented in the half marathon by the aforementioned Serjogins, Višķers and Marhele; the 10 km will feature Edgars Šumskis; Uģis Jocis will run the 6 km race, and Austra Ošiņa and Kamilla Vanadziņa will compete in the DPD Mile.
Who will be the first Latvian Champions in the mile?
The Rimi Riga Marathon programme will begin on May 14th with the DPD Mile, the first Latvian championship in the mile road race in Latvian history. The main competitor in the men’s race will be five-time Latvian 1500 metre champion Jānis Razgalis. The Women’s race will be closely fought by multiple-time Latvian and Baltic youth champion Austra Ošiņa, who achieved her best result in the international arena when she was crowned champion in Lithuania’s Amber Sea Mile; Kamilla Vanadziņa, one of Latvia’s most talented young athletes who is the Baltic junior cross-country champion and the Latvian 1500 metre champion; and Tokyo Olympic athlete Līga Velvere, who was the 2020 Latvian 1500 metre champion.
International favourites in the marathon and half marathon
Competing in the men’s marathon race this year will be several Kenyans who have gained impressive results, including 2nd place winner of the Berlin Marathon (2015) Eliud Kiptanui (PB 2:05:21, 2015), and 5th place winner of the Seville Marathon (2020) and silver medallist in the 2021 Sydney Marathon Michael Kunyuga (PB 2:06:43, 2020).
The women’s marathon race will feature several competitors from Kenya and Ethiopia among its elite runners, the most experienced of which include Ethiopian Aberu Mekuria Zennebe (PB 2:24:30, 2019), who achieved her highest result and the gold medal at the 2019 Chongqing Marathon and also won the 2015 Ottawa Marathon. Returning to the Rimi Riga Marathon will be another Ethiopian, Aynalem Kassahun Teferi (PB 2:26:12, 2021), who came fifth in Riga in 2018, and who set her personal best last year in the Cape Town Marathon.
The current Rimi Riga Marathon men’s record holder is Ethiopian Andualem Belay Shiferaw, who won in 2019 with a result of 2:08:51, while the women’s record holder is 2019 winner Birke Debele Beyene from Ethiopia, with a finish time of 2:26:22.
Organisers predict that Kenyan Robert Kimaru Magut’s men’s half-marathon record (1:05:04, 2017, Riga) will be beaten this year. Both the favourites in the half marathon — including Kenyan Shadrack Kimining Korir, who ran his personal best (59:57, 2020) in Houston, and Ethiopian Gizealew Abeje Ayana (PB 59:39, 2021), who triumphed at the Poznań Marathon last year — and Baltic and European half marathon runners could run faster in Riga this year.
In the women’s half marathon, we should highlight Kenyan athlete Beatrice Chepkemoi Mutai, who achieved her best result (PB 1:07:29) in the Gent Marathon this year, and is a realistic candidate for beating Jeļena Prokopčuka’s decade-long Riga half-marathon record.
Rimi Rīgas maratona rekordi
The Rimi Riga Marathon record for men in the marathon distance is the Ethiopian Andualem Šifero, who won the marathon with a result of 2:08:51, but the Ethiopian Birke Bejene remained unbeaten in 2019 with 2:26:22.
Apply to run in the elite corridors
Although the core of Latvia’s elite runners will be comprised of Latvija Pasaulē participants, organisers invite all Latvian and international runners who meet the elite qualification standards published on the Rimi Riga Marathon website and statute to apply for the elite runners’ starting corridor. Elite runners in the half marathon, for example, will have their own start at 7:50, or 55 minutes before the general half marathon start, meaning that competition for places on the podium will only take place among those starting in the elite corridor. Similarly, the DPD Mile on May 14th will have three starts: for elite men (10 a.m.), elite women (10:01 a.m.), and remaining participants (10:02 a.m.).