Event: Women’s Long Distances Date of birth: 1985/04/09 Personal bests: 800m (2:03.36),...
APRIL CHASING COURSE RECORD IN HANNOVER
Eager to bounce back after struggling to hit top form over the last couple of seasons, Lusapho April is targeting a personal best and a place in the SA team for the Rio Olympics, as he returns to his happy hunting ground at the Hannover Marathon on Sunday.
April, who won the IAAF Silver Label race in 2011 and 2013, holds the course record of 2:08:32, which still stands as his best time over the 42km distance.
After taking third place at the 2013 New York Marathon, he finished outside the top 10 in the Big Apple the following year, and again at the 2014 and 2015 Boston Marathons, before picking up a shin injury and withdrawing in the closing stages of last season’s Berlin Marathon.
Returning to the familiar Hannover course, April said this week he was confident of clocking a career best and making an impact in the Olympic qualifying race.
He has displayed fine form in the early stages of the season, clocking 1:02:16 in East London and 1:02:28 in New York over the half-marathon distance, and produced a time of 29:09 over 10km in Port Elizabeth last week.
“I am fit and feel very well,” April told the race website after arriving in Hannover.
“I believe I can run a personal best here and hope to run under 2:08:00.”
Should he achieve the feat, April will become only the sixth South African to go under the 2:08:00 barrier, and in an effort to deliver a fast race, organisers have asked the pacemakers to go through halfway in 1:04:00.
April faces a field packed with Kenyan runners, including Philip Sanga, Duncan Koech, Martin Kosgey and Moses Masai, as he aims to become the first man to lift the Hannover crown three times.
While Sanga set his personal best of 2:06:11 back in 2011, he is a seasoned campaigner, having dipped under 2:13:00 every year for the last eight seasons.
Koech, a former Hannover winner from 2008, is equally formidable, holding a career record of 2:07:53 which he set in Cologne in 2012.
Kosgey will hope for a breakthrough performance after finishing in the top four in Hannover in 2014 and 2015, as will former World Championships 10 000m bronze medallist Moses Masai, who has not yet cracked the 2:10:00 mark over the classic distance on the road.