Ethiopian runners are expected to among the top of the elite competitors at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend marathon this Sunday.
Manny Rodrigues, ORW elite athlete coordinator, said Tariku Jafar, 28, and Terefi Kebede, 32, are two elite runners to watch out for at the finish line as the athletes try to break 2:09:12, a record set by last year’s champion, Laban Moiben of Kenya.
All marathon runners, though, will have their eyes set on the “magic prize” of 2:07:57, he said. Kenneth Mungara of Kenya set that record in Toronto in 2010.
As for female runners, Ethiopian Yeshi Esayias is the returning champion with a personal best time of 2:26.
“I think her main competitor is going to be Maria Konovalova. She stands out because the fact that her personal best is 2:23:50 and she’s placed in the top 10 in London and Chicago.
Compared to the Boston Marathon, ORW is a bigger event overall with more than 40,000 runners in the marathon, 2 k, 5 k, and 10 k. Almost 30,000 runners competed in Boston, although the marathon is the primary event, said ORW president and race director, John Halvorsen.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, which left three people killed and more than 200 injured, Halvorsen said people can expect to see an “enhanced” Ottawa police presence on the ground this year.
“We’re also working with messages to the runners and the spectators to be aware that, of course because of what happened in Boston, there’s a bit of sensitivity around packages, bags, and so on,” said Halvorsen. “So we will be reminding people to leave as much as they can at home, not to leave baggage unattended.”
Organizers will hand out clear, plastic bags to spectators to use if they want at the baggage check as a precautionary measure.
“We’ve got to be a little more careful as to what we accept,” said Halvorsen. “Bags that appear a bit unusual, we’ll check them out and that will slow things down unless you use clear bags or come with very light, small bags.”
ORW runs Saturday through Sunday in downtown Ottawa. Visit runottawa.ca for more information.