Who will stop London and New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany from winning the next marathon on November 5?
That will be the question many runners will be grappling with when they line up on the streets of New York for this year’s race in two months’ time, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, Keitany is not blinking her eyes as she returns to her base in Iten, Kenya for training before returning to the United States to take a bite at the ‘Big Apple’ race.
“I think I will be doing New York in November so now I’m going back to try to continue my programme,” Keitany said in a telephonic interview on Monday.
The Kenyan is fresh from winning the Great North Run in Newcastle, England where she missed her course record by 20 seconds as she claimed victory in 65 minutes 59 seconds which is the fourth quickest ever in this race and her 10th sub-67.
Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya was second in 67:44 ahead of compatriot Caroline Kipkirui in third with 69:52.
But that win and narrow miss at the course record may be the ammunition Keitany needs to fuel her quest for a bigger prize, the course record at the New York marathon, which has 100,000 U.S. dollars top prize and bonus to boot for fast time.
Keitany won last year’s New York race in 2:24:26, well off the women’s course record of 2:22:31 by Kenya’s Margaret Okayo in 2003.
Keitany, 35, is a two-time winner of the World Marathon Majors, taking the series titles in 2012 and 2016.
This year, she has already won her third career London Marathon in April, breaking the women’s marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01.
Keitany won the New York Marathon for the last three years, including a dominating performance last year in which she finished 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.
“Another top finish for Mary would give her the second most titles in the event after Grete Waitz,” said Peter Ciaccia, New York Marathon director.
“I’m so excited to return to New York to race for my fourth consecutive title,” Keitany said.
“Being among the all-time leaders in New York is truly an honour, and while it will not be easy to defend my title, surpassing a legendary runner like Paula Radcliffe for the second-most victories by a woman in the event would be incredible.”