By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- World marathon record holder Mary Keitany is not under pressure to improve on her personal best time as she puts her title on the line in New York marathon on Nov. 5.
Keitany, 35, has won the New York Marathon each of the last three years, including a dominating performance last year as she dropped off her rivals midway 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.
"I like running fast and now I feel am at my optimum best," she said Wednesday in Iten. "But when you prepare for such competition, you have always to be aware that anything can happen and hurdles and challenges is what make marathon running fun."
Keitany is a two-time winner of the World Marathon Majors, taking the series titles in 2012 and 2016. This year, she won her third London Marathon in April, breaking the women's only marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01.
However, she has ruled out attempting to break the record, saying it only falls into place if all conditions are intact.
"For such a race, you don't plan to run a world record time, but run as fast as you can. Then see where it leads you to," she said.
In the build-up to the New York Marathon, Keitany's husband Charles Koech has hinted she is in similar shape to when she ran 2:17:01 in the London Marathon in April.
"Keitany is in good shape and we are optimistic that she will run well the way she did in London. We are almost through with the hard training before we embark on the fine-tuning part," he said.
Keitany will arrive in New York on Oct. 30 ahead of race day on Nov. 5. Joining Keitany are two other women who have broken the 2:20 barrier.
They are led by Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, who won the 2017 Boston Marathon and recently placed second at the World Championships marathon in London and has a 2:19:50 best that dates to the 2012 London Marathon.
There is also Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia, who ran 2:19:52 at the 2012 Dubai Marathon. Dibaba won bronze at the 2016 Olympic marathon and finished eighth in August at the World Championships marathon.
Another novice who can spoil the party is Betsy Saina of Kenya, who will take a second try at the marathon distance after not finishing the 2017 Tokyo Marathon in February.