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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Keitany favoured?

Mary Keitany after winning the London Marathon in 2012./COURTESY
Mary Keitany after winning the London Marathon in 2012./COURTESY

Two-time London Marathon champion Mary Keitany remains coy about the prospects of hitting her second hat-trick of big city marathons after achieving the feat in New York last year.

Keitany will be running in London for the sixth time after competing in the Virgin Money race four times and at the 2012 Olympics.

In her previous outings, Keitany managed to win the London Marathon twice in 2011 and 2012, finished second in 2015 and was ninth in 2016. She finished fourth at the London Olympics.

Asked about the prospect of a third win on April 27, Keitany said: “It is still too early to talk about winning the event. This is something that comes automatically when the training is right. But I know I will not be ninth.”

In New York last year, Keitany repeated her winning performances from 2014 and 2015, becoming the third woman to achieve the feat behind Norway’s Grete Waitz (nine times) and Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe (three times).

The 2017 London Marathon organisers termed this year’s field as the toughest to have been assembled and Keitany could not agree more.

“We have all the top runners in there. Everybody can see it is a strong field,” she said.

“I have started training (here) but it is still early to tell more about my prospects. I will have to train hard and maybe by March, I can be in a position to talk about winning a third title.”

Keitany will be up against the likes of defending and Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong (2:20:41), Aselefech Mergia (2:19:31), Florence Kiplagat (2:19:44), Mare Dibaba (2:19:52), Aberu Kebede (2:20:30), Tirunesh Dibaba (2:20:35), Helah Kiprop (2:21:27) and Tigist Tufa (2:21:52) in an epic battle between long time East Africa rivals Kenya and Ethiopia. Her current personal best time of 2:18:37 is also the Kenyan marathon national record.

Elsewhere, Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri and British 1500m record-holder Laura Muir will race over 3000m at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Karlsruhe on February 4.

Both athletes will be seeking their first victory in the German city. Obiri finished second over 1500m in Karlsruhe in 2012 before going on to win the world indoor 3000m title one month later. Muir, meanwhile, finished second over 3000m in 2015.

Obiri and Muir have been in the form of their life over the past 12 months. Obiri clocked season’s bests of 3:59.34 for 1500m and 8:24.27 for 3000m before going on to take the Olympic 5000m silver medal in Rio and ended her summer season with a PB of 14:25.78 at that distance. Her form has continued through the winter and the Kenyan has won numerous cross-country races in recent months against quality fields.

Muir broke Kelly Holmes’ British 1500m record with her 3:57.49 run at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London last summer. She improved it to 3:55.22 in Paris and ended the year as the Diamond Race winner in the event. Earlier this month, she smashed the British indoor 5000m record with a time of 14:49.12.

Obiri holds the Kenyan indoor 3000m record at 8:29.99. Muir’s outright PB of 8:38.47, set outdoors in early 2015, looks due for revision and she may have one eye on the British indoor record of 8:31.50. Both runners could also challenge the meeting record of 8:35.28 set by Meseret Defar in 2013.


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