Kenya's Keitany relishes return to New York to defend marathon title

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-31 22:31:57|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

By John Kwoba

NAIROBI, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Reigning champion Mary Keitany from Kenya will be putting her reputation and crown on the line when she lines up for this year's New York Marathon on Nov. 5.

Keitany, who opted out of the World Marathon Championships team to London in August to focus on the Big Apple race, will be eying some fast time to kill off any mutiny to her dominance over the 42km distance.

"I always like running fast and going back to New York excites me. It is a city I have competed in severally and I will like it if I can win once more," she said on Thursday in Iten.

Keitany is the fastest in the women's race with her 2:17:01 clocking from the London Marathon in April but she will face strong opposition from former world champions Edna Kiplagat (2:19:50) and Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba (2:19:52) and former London Marathon winner Tigist Tufa (2:21:52).

Top European entrants include France's Christelle Daunay (2:24:22) and Portugal's Jessica Augusto (2:24:33) while Kenya's Betsy Saina is set to make her debut.

Keitany, 35, has won the New York Marathon each of the last three years, including a dominating performance last year in which she surged ahead at 18km to finish the course on a solo run in 2:24:26.

Her 3:34 margin of victory was the greatest in the women's race since 1980, and she became the first able-bodied runner since Grete Waitz to win the event three years in a row.

Keitany is a two-time winner of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) - a seven big city marathon circuit where athletes gain points in Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Boston and London - to claim the 1 million U.S. dollar jackpot.

Keitany won the WMM series titles in 2012 and 2016. This year, she won her third career London Marathon in April, breaking the women's only marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01.

"Running in New York is different because we have so many top athletes locking each other down. But I run my own race and in this kind of races, you don't pray for a weaker opponent," he said.

In New York, Keitany will come up against former champion and three-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and Betsy Saina, both of Kenya.

Kiplagat, 37, won titles from the 2010 New York Marathon, 2014 London and 2017 Boston. She is a three-time World Championship medalist, most recently taking silver at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in London in August.

On the other hand, Saina also from Kenya is a rookie in the marathon distance. The 29-year-old finished fifth at the 10,000 meters at the Rio 2016 Olympics after winning the New York road race Millrose Games 5,000 meters earlier that year.