NAIROBI, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Gladys Cherono wants to improve on her Berlin marathon course record when she returns on Sept. 29 to defend her title in the German capital.
Cherono, who clocked 2:18:11 to win last year's race, is burying herself in training hoping to emerge stronger in September to fend off her rivals from her crown as she seeks the fourth win in Berlin.
"Last year, my target was to break the course record and run under 2:19:00 time. I was happy to have set a new course record. The weather conditions were good and it made me run fast. Hopefully, I will get similar conditions and be strong enough to shade off some seconds from my personal best time," Cherono said on Tuesday in Nairobi.
However, Cherono will face her fellow Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, who beat her in London in April and Olympic bronze medalist Ethiopian Mare Dibaba.
Last year, Cherono won the Berlin Marathon in a world-leading time of 2:18:11 and went on to finish fourth at the London Marathon in 2:24:10.
In April, she returned to London and still held on to finish fourth clocking 2:20:52.
"We are delighted to have the defending champion Gladys Cherono on the start line. With three very strong contenders in the line-up, the race could be center stage in September," said Race Director Mark Milde.
After victories in 2015 and 2017, Cherono secured her third triumph in Berlin last year.
The 36-year-old, who won the World Half Marathon title in 2014, also broke the course record of the Japanese Mizuki Noguchi of 2:19:12 which had stood for 13 years.
Cherono, a former world 10,000m champion from Moscow in 2013, must be at her best to beat Cheruiyot, who has marathon wins in Frankfurt, London and second place finishes in New York and London. But she believes she has the strides to take on any rival.
"My goal is now to win for the fourth time in Berlin," said Cherono.