Sports World

Kenya’s Keitany relishes return to New York to defend marathon title

Reigning champion Mary Keitany from Kenya will be putting her reputation and crown on the line when she lines up for the New York Marathon on November 5.

Keitany, who opted out of the World Marathon Championships team to London in August to focus on the Big Apple race, will be eyeing some fast time to kill off any challenge to her dominance over the 42km distance, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I always like running fast and going back to New York excites me. It is a city I have competed in severally and I will like it if I can win once more,” she said on Thursday in Iten.

Keitany is the fastest in the women’s race with her 2:17:01 hours clocking from the London Marathon in April but she will face strong opposition from former world champions Edna Kiplagat (2:19:50) and Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba (2:19:52) and former London Marathon winner Tigist Tufa (2:21:52).

Top European entrants include France’s Christelle Daunay (2:24:22) and Portugal’s Jessica Augusto (2:24:33) while Kenya’s Betsy Saina is set to make her debut.

Keitany, 35, has won the New York Marathon each of the last three years, including a dominating performance last year in which she surged ahead at 18km 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.

Keitany is a two-time winner of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) — a seven big city marathon circuit where athletes gain points in Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Boston and London — to claim the $1 million jackpot.

Keitany won the WMM series titles in 2012 and 2016. This year, she won her third career London Marathon in April, breaking the women’s only marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01.

“Running in New York is different because we have so many top athletes locking each other down. But I run my own race and in this kind of races, you don’t pray for a weaker opponent,” he said.

In New York, Keitany will come up against former champion and three-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and Betsy Saina, both of Kenya.

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