London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot has played down her anticipated rivalry with compatriot Mary Keitany as the two go head to head at the New York Marathon on Sunday.
However, Cheruiyot says every race will be a learning experience and a big challenge, owing to her success both as an Olympic champion and marathon winner.
Cheruiyot, 33, is still a novice in the distance and New York will be just her fourth marathon after finishing fourth (2:23:50) in her debut in London in 2017, winning in Frankfurt (2:23:35) and returning to London this year to clinch the win in 2:18:31, her current personal best and the fifth-fastest time in women’s marathon history.
“We respect each other and when we race its down to individual effort. I have done well in training and am ready for the next challenge,” Cheruiyot said on Tuesday in Nairobi.
Cheruiyot and Keitany will also have to contend with the challenge of defending champion Shalane Flanagan and Boston Marathon winner Desiree Linden, both from the United States.
“I am very excited to make my first appearance in the New York marathon on Sunday. I know as the London Marathon champion, the other athletes will be watching me and it will not be easy, but I aim to keep my marathon winning streak alive in New York,” said Cheruiyot.
Keitany will be looking for her fourth title, after she was beaten into second place last year.
“I was disappointed not to defend my title last year, but I was not 100 percent healthy and Shalane [Flanagan] ran a strong race. I am happy for her historic win. When I came back to New York to win the New York Mini 10K in June, I showed that I am still in top shape. I have trained harder than ever to try to win my fourth New York marathon title in November,” said Keitany.
In February, Keitany was second at the Ras Al Khaimah International Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) clocking a fast time of 64:55.
On the other hand, Cheruiyot showed her pedigree when she won the 2018 Great North Run in Newcastle, clocking 67:43.
“The next stop now is the New York Marathon. I am excited about the race because each event is a learning experience for me,” Cheruiyot added.