NAIROBI, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Former world record holder Peres Jepchirchir hopes to weather the storm and prove her form when she lines up on Friday at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Though she clocked 65:06 in 2017 to take three seconds off the previous world record, the 25-year old missed the 2018 season after becoming a mother and is now back in action.
Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday on her way to Dubai, Jepchirchir said she can weather the storm but believes pressure is on her to deliver.
"The focus will be on me because I have conquered that course before and held the world record, though it never lasted. But I have returned to full fitness and am ready and focused on the job ahead," she said.
During her 18 month absense from competition, the world record was lowered to 64:51 by compatriot Joyciline Jepkosgei in Valencia in 2017.
Fellow Kenyan Fancy Chemutai missed that record by just one second when winning last year's race in Ras Al Khaimah during a memorable clash with Mary Keitany, who clocked 64:55. With Joan Chelimo having run 65:04 in Prague last April, Jepchirchir now sits fifth on the world all-time list.
"Records are there to be broken and I did my part and now I have to start all over again. I don't regret going away for a season to have a child, I still have a long time in athletics and it starts in Ras Al Khaimah on Friday," she added.
Organizers have assembled a strong elite squad to try and break the world record once more.
The women's race features a face-off between Jepchirchir and world champion Netsanet Gudeta.
The number of top runners in both men's and women's division has led organizers to describe the field as "possibly an even faster circuit than in previous years".
But for Jepchirchir, 2019 marks a new beginning in her career. She intends to move up to the full marathon and wants to use Ras Al Khaimah as a springboard.
"Back in 2017, I was not thinking I can run a world record time, but I did. Now I am preparing to run the marathon, starting in April.
"Two years ago, I arrived in Ras Al Khaimah having just recovered from pneumonia and I won the race. Today, I have no fears or problems as I return to the UAE. I hope to run well," she added.