Bengaluru, 3 May: Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli and Irene Cheptai will return to defend their men’s and women’s crowns respectively at the Tata Consultancy Services World 10K Bengaluru here on 21 May.

Both had won this  World Athletics Gold Label Road Race, with course records last year.

Kipkorir Kimeli scorched the course in 27:38 and Cheptai stormed to victory in 30:35 in the USD 210,000 prize fund road race that will see a formidable International Elite field take part in the landmark 15th edition, while enthusiastic amateurs from across India and the world descend on the Garden City, to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the race.

“I’m excited to be defending my title. I’ve prepared well and am feeling confident,” said Kipkorir Kimeli.

The top 12 runners in the men’s field, hold personal bests under the course record and the top 3 have timed below 27 which makes the current line-up one of the closest and most competitive. In the women’s section, the top four runners have personal bests under the course record.

“I’m thrilled to be back in Bengaluru and I have fond memories of India. I’ve trained well, but a lot depends on how you feel on race day,” said Cheptai.

Also in the men’s fray are Ethiopians Gemechu Dida and Birhanu Legese, Ugandan Stephen Kissa and Kenya’s Sabastian Sawe, who finished seventh at this year’s World Cross Country Championships in Australia.

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Legese is a two-time winner of the Tokyo Marathon, Berlin Marathon silver medallist and a former champion of the Delhi Half Marathon and the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, but the top spot has eluded him at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru; where he has finished on the podium a few times.

“I’m feeling very positive but I hope that things fall my way,” said Legese, the world’s fourth fastest male marathoner.

Dida is in good form after winning the 10K in Lille, France in March and a fourth place at the RAK Half Marathon in the UAE in February.

Kissa, a Tokyo Olympian over the 10,000m, brings years of track speed to the road and clocked an impressive 2:04.48 on his debut Haspa Marathon in Hamburg in 2022. He was also a third-place finisher at the 2020 Delhi Half Marathon in 58:56.

On the distaff side, Ethiopia’s Dera Dida, the 2019 World Cross Country silver medallist, ran a personal record and took home her first marathon victory in 2:21:11 at the Dubai Marathon in February this year. Dida is married to Tamirat Tola, the world marathon champion.

Among the favourites for the women’s honours is also the talented Tsehay Gemechu, who took second place at this year’s Tokyo Marathon in 2:16.56.

“We have put together an exciting field to celebrate the landmark 15th edition of the TCS World 10K Bengaluru on a new Boomerang-shaped course and we hope you enjoy the fantastic action on the cards. Looking forward to seeing you all at the start line,” said Vivek Singh, Jt MD of race promoters Procam International.

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