Khalid Choukoud at the start of the 16th Weir Venloop

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Venlo – At this year’s 16th edition of the Weir Venloop on Sunday, March 26, one of the strongest Dutch runners, Khalid Choukoud, will once again be at the start line. Ethiopian Fikadu Haftu Tsadik will make his return to the top international field. He has a personal record of 59.08 minutes.

Khalid takes on a strong Dutch field

Olympic athlete Khalid Choukoud, also reigning Dutch champion in the marathon and 10 km, is the fastest Dutchman on the start list with a personal record of 61.53 minutes. On the Venlo course, he also remains the fastest Dutch participant in the Weir Venloop with a time of 62.31 minutes from 2015. Tom Hendrikse has yet to set a fast time in the half marathon but did finish second at this year’s Egmond half marathon, where he beat Choukoud by 1 second, and last week in Hellendoorn he became a convincing Dutch Champion in the Cross. One athlete with already fast chrono is Benjamin de Haan, he ran to a time of 62.24 minutes in New York last year. Limburg athlete Bas van Hooren will make his debut at the half marathon in Venlo. He surprised at the Dutch 10-km Championships last month with a silver medal and a fast time of 28.40 minutes. Other fast Dutchmen include Filmon Tesfu (silver at last year’s NK 10 km in Venlo) and Gianluca Assorgia (63.46 minutes). From Limburg, Pim Lambregts (64.59 minutes) and Roel Wijmenga (65.30 minutes) are also on the start list.

Fikadu Haftu Tsadik leads international field

The top international field will be led by Ethiopian Fikadu Haftu Tsadik. A civil war prevented him from training properly for several years but in Venlo he made his comeback. He ran his personal record of 59.08 minutes in 2019 and a total of three times he has already run faster than an hour. He faces opposition from two other runners who have run the half marathon under an hour before. Josphat Kiprotich of Kenya raced to 59.35 minutes in Napoli last year while his compatriot Isaac Kipsang Temoi has a personal record of 59.44 minutes. The Venlo course record also stands at a time of 59.44 minutes.
Outsiders for the podium are Samson Amare Hailemicael of Eritrea and Charles Yosei Mneria of Kenya. Samson recently finished 25th at the World Cross Country Championships and has a best time of 60.08 minutes. Last year, Charles won the Zwolle half marathon in 60.28 minutes and finished second at the Breda Singelloop.

Betelihem Afenigus Yemer in top form

Among the women, Ethiopia’s Betelihem Afenigus Yemer is in top form. She ran the Paris Half Marathon last weekend in 66.46 minutes, placing third. Beatrice Chepkemoi Mutai of Kenya won last year’s Ghent half marathon in 67.29 minutes and is a formidable and experienced competitor. Both ladies are faster than the Venlo course record of 67.49 minutes.

The strongest Dutch woman is Jacelyn Gruppen. In Barcelona last month, she ran to a time of 71.01 minutes. Athletes who could join her on the Dutch podium are Maaike van Gelder, Kim Dillen, Sara van Grunsven and Susan van Weperen.

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