While a strong squad of Kenyan women will line up at the five-borough New York City Marathon on Sunday, the country will be represented by just two in the elite men’s race — Albert Korir and Evans Chebet.
Experienced star Edna Kiplagat will lead the women’s charge, seeking to retain, for Kenya, the title Peres Jepchirchir claimed last year in a 1-2 finish with Viola Lagat.
The New York Marathon is a World Marathon Majors race run annually across New York City’s five boroughs of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Two-time world champion Kiplagat is not your ordinary athlete. At 42, she has since shifted her base to Colorado, USA. Tomorrow’s race will be her fifth marathon and she is eyeing nothing short of a podium position at the “Big Apple.”
Kiplagat will be competing against her compatriots Viola Lagat, US-based Grace Kahura and debutant Hellen Obiri, a two-time world 5,000 metres track champion. They will be up against Israel’s Kenyan-born Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, Ethiopians Gotytom Gebreslase and Senbere Teferi, among others.
Kiplagat’s 2022 season started with a fourth place at the Boston Marathon in April where she clocked two hours, 21 minutes and 40 seconds in a race won by her compatriot Peres Jepchirchir with Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh coming in second while another Kenya Mary Ngugi finished third.
“New York is a challenging course which I still remember very well, but I’m confident that we shall run well because while it’s tough, it affects everyone. The elite field is one of best ever assembled, and I will use my experience to run honest paces and be patient,” said Kiplagat.
She revealed that her preparations for the race started three months ago and that she did three base training sessions before doing build-up, combined endurance and speed along with hill training and mileage sessions.
“You have to combine a lot of things while preparing for a marathon and this has always been my tradition while training for a major race and this was no exemption. I believe in good preparations and that is why I have managed to be in this career for a long time,” she added.
She added that there is not much difference training in Colorado and at her Iten home. But is quick to add that she misses the group training in Iten because it has more athletes compared to her new home.
On her longevity, she offers: “I’m very grateful for the great support from my own family. My husband Gilbert Koech has played a big role of coaching throughout my career and I truly appreciate him.”
In the men’s race, defending champion Korir will be competing against his compatriot, Boston Marathon champion Evans Chebet who has been training in Kapsabet, Nandi County, and who is the fastest in the field with 2:03:00.
Korir is among the few athletes who train in Kaptarakwa, Elgeyo Marakwet County, and is optimistic that he could pull another surprise.
“I started training for this race in July and it has been a good progress so far and having finished my programme, I have set my eyes on the prize though I know it will be a tough race,” he told Nation Sport after training at his Kipkabus Farm in Uasin County last week.
This will be Korir’s second race this year after competing in Boston Marathon in April where he finished sixth.
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