Sondre Nordstad Moen will begin his 2018 racing season in the Napoli City Half Marathon (February 4th) after a sensational final few months in 2017. In September he began with a personal best 27:55 for 10K in the Birell Prague Grand Prix and concluded with a December victory in the prestigious Fukuoka Marathon in a European Record 2:05:48. In the interim he improved to number three on the European half marathon list with 59:48, in Valencia.
Those performances made the world sit up and take notice of Moen, who is currently garnering more attention than any Norwegian runner since the days of Grete Waitz and Ingrid Kristiansen.
Moen is a new European marathon record holder with an exceptional time of 2:05:47 set on the occasion of his victory at the Fukuoka Marathon last December. Moen, the first European to run under the 2:06 mark, has shown that even a European athlete can compete with the African athletes who always seem unbeatable. The 27-year-old is a formidable athlete also in the half-marathon distance; in Valencia last October, he surprised everyone by running in 59:48, the third best time ever for a European, behind Mo Farah (59:22) and Antonio Pinto (59:43).
After spending some 200 days at altitude in Kenya and Italy last year and working with Renato Canova for a full year after the Rio Olympics, Moen and Canova both think there is room for improvement. They have mapped out an ambitious schedule for 2018 including the World Championship Half Marathon and the European Marathon Championship, but he will begin his 2018 campaign on the streets of Naples.
“Napoli half marathon is the competition I need now," Moen said. "I’m expecting good weather there and I've been told that contenders are potentially able to run below one hour. The course on the map seems to be good. When few days ago I heard that Mr. Capalbo and his team have been working with the entire organizing committee to organise this competition, I did not hesitate. I met them in Prague where I ran the 10K road race and I found their way of working impeccable. Care of details and care of quality for both elite athletes and the mass is something extremely important for the success of an event. I’m counting days to be ready at 8.30 at the starting line, to run in the historic center – a World Heritage Site - and along the sea."
The Napoli City Half Marathon will afford Moen the chance to test his fitness as he will fly directly to Naples from his training camp in Iten, Kenya. But he will face a stiff challenge from Nobert Kigen (59:42) and Felix Kandie (1:00:04) of Kenya as well as Stefano La Rosa who has won multiple Italian Championships at 5,000 and 10,000 meters and has a half marathon best of 1:02:39.
Unfortunately a last minute cancellation cost the women’s field Veronica Inglese of Italy due to some unspecified training problems. The race will now be headlined by Antonina Kwambai of Kenya (1:09:49) and Shitaye Eshete (1:10:10) who competes for Bahrain.
Carlo Capalbo, the President of the Napoli Running Organising Committee, welcomed the 27 year old Moen’s entry in the race.
“The interest from elite runners like Sondre shows the growing recognition of Napoli Running as a new force on the international event calendar," Capalbo said. "And the more than 6,000 runners who will join Moen and the other professionals in Historic Naples demonstrate the growing acceptance of the running public.”