Tag Archives: Mary Keitany

Mary Keitany: from shoeless prodigy to top of the world

Kenya’s Mary Keitany, the holder of the world marathon record in a women-only race, generously agreed to donate some of her racing kit to the World Athletics Heritage Collection following her retirement in September.

Since the beginning of December, Keitany’s singlet, shorts and shoes from her fourth and final New York City Marathon victory in 2018 have been on display in the 3D virtual Museum of World Athletics (MOWA).

We are delighted to celebrate her donation by recapping the career of one of the all-time greats of road running.

‘If I don’t do this, then what?’

Hailing from Baringo County, a province immediately to the east of the focal point for Kenyan running in Eldoret, there are many well-known and successful athletes who come from the area, but Keitany’s impoverished childhood made it initially unlikely that she was going to join their number.

She elaborated on her tough childhood in a lengthy interview with The New York Times in 2019 – details of which are only precised here – and described living in a home without electricity or any other basic amenities, as well as having no shoes for much of her childhood.

Her household tasks as a very young child included walking several kilometres to a nearby river to haul pails of water home for cooking and cleaning.

Keitany’s parents, both struggling subsistence farmers, were unable to afford even the modest school fees for her to continue her education from her mid-teens so, at the age of 15, to help support her parents and five siblings, she left and went to work as a live-in maid almost 20 kilometres away, caring for three infants and sometimes not seeing her family for several months at a time.

“It was not an easy job,” reflected Keitany. “But I was getting money to give to my parents. I was thinking, ‘If I don’t do this, then what?’”

Mary Keitany training in Iten

Hidden talent out in the open

She returned to school after two years when a relative was able to help financially and Keitany started to attend the National Hidden Talents Academy near Nairobi, a community-based secondary school that primarily assists orphaned and vulnerable children.

The school had a strong emphasis on physical education, which continues to this day, and it has produced several Kenyan internationals in a variety of sports. Keitany’s precocious talent as a runner, which had been evident in her early teens prior to the enforced two-year hiatus, came to the fore.

After graduating from high school in her early 20s, Keitany was then talent-spotted in local races and assisted by the Kenyan international runner Lenah Cheruiyot, who was seventh in the 2002 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships, and during the early part of 2006 she took a gamble and became a full-time runner.

After eight months of hard training and sharing a cramped one-bedroom house with three other runners, Keitany made her first overseas trip and caused a minor sensation by winning the relatively low-key Sevilla-Los Palacios Half Marathon in southern Spain – not to be confused with the much better known EDP Sevilla Half Marathon – by over two minutes in 1:09:06, a course record that exists to this day ahead of the 2021 edition on 19 December.

The words ‘unknown Kenyan’ are too often used to hide a lack of research or information but in this instance, it was a most appropriate phrase and, amid rumours at the time that the course was short because of Keitany’s super-quick time on the circuit, it bought her to the attention of both athletics aficionados and race promoters alike.

In the first nine months of 2007, Keitany proved that her debut international race had been no fluke as she rattled off another five half marathon victories in six outings at races in Portugal, Spain and France, also reducing her best to 1:08:36.

Keitany takes silver in Udine

This streak of success earned her a place on the Kenyan team at the 2007 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in the Italian city of Udine – an accolade she subsequently admitted as being among her wildest dreams, despite her ambition to be a top-flight runner 12 months before – and she showed her considerable mettle to finish second behind the Netherlands’ Lornah Kiplagat and bank a cheque for a life-changing $15,000.

Mary Keitany at the 2007 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Udine

To now give a complete narrative of the next 12 years of Keitany’s superb competitive running career through to her last race, the 2019 New York City Marathon, would take a book and cannot be done justice in just a few hundred words.

However, it was apposite that her running career should finish in the Big Apple at arguably the world’s most famous race over the classic distance, as it is this event with which she is probably most closely associated.

After finishing third in New York on her marathon debut in 2010 – in the wake of her win at the 2009 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in 1:06:36 which, at the time, was the second fastest mark ever on a record-legal course and an African record – Keitany went on to win the New York City Marathon on three consecutive occasions between 2014 and 2016 and then again in 2018.

To this day, she remains the only woman other than the incomparable Grete Waitz to have triumphed in New York more than three times.

Keitany also made her mark in the London Marathon. Her first triumph there came in 2011 and further victories in the British capital came in 2012 and 2017.

Mary Keitany wins the 2018 New York City Marathon, in kit she has donated to the World Athletics Heritage Collection

Record runs in London and RAK

She continues to hold the women-only marathon world record with a time of 2:17:01 set when she completed her hat-trick of London wins four years ago.

Another particularly notable accolade during her illustrious career was setting a world half marathon record of 1:05:50 at the 2011 RAK Half Marathon.

Perhaps the only blemish on Keitany’s competitive record is that she never climbed the podium at an Olympic Games.

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, she started arguably as the favourite having returned to the city with a world-leading 2:18:37 from the London Marathon, albeit on a different course, four months earlier. She was part of a leading quartet of runners at 40km but was the luckless member of the group to miss out in the battle for the medals over the final two kilometres and crossed the line in fourth place.

In 2016, she was named as a non-travelling reserve for the Kenyan contingent going to Rio, but Keitany had her sights set on challenging for a place on the Tokyo team before the pandemic, and a cruelly timed back injury, intervened.

In September this year – with her 40th birthday looming on 18 January 2022 – Keitany decided to call time on her outstanding career and announced the end of her professional running in a valedictory press release.

“After my successful 2019, when I had some good results including second place in New York, I was hopeful that I could still be very competitive internationally for several more years even though I am in my late 30s,” she commented.

“However, I’m sad to say, a back injury that I suffered in late 2019 made a decision about my retirement for me. I couldn’t get the treatment I wanted in Europe because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions last year and every time I thought I had got over the injury and started training hard, it became a problem again.”

Sadly, Keitany will no longer be seen on the start line of a major marathon but nevertheless she leaves behind a host of memorable performances that have assured her of a place in the pantheon of road running greats.

Nancy Kiprop to battle Peres Jepchirchir at New York Marathon

Three times Vienna City marathon champion, Nancy Kiprop will be targeting podium position at the 50th edition of the New York Marathon that will be held on Sunday (7) November in New York City.

The 42 year-old finished in fourth position with a time of 2:26.21 at the 2019 edition behind Joyciline Jepkosgei who pulled 2:22.38 with Mary Keitany coming home in second in 2:23.32 and Ruti Aga third in a time of 2:25.51.

Kiprop has not competed in any race for two years and returns to the same course she launched her World Marathon majors career following her dominance at the Vienna City marathon.

“I have been off for two years and the same course I competed last, is the same course I will be running. The two years have been long but I have hope of reaching the podium,” said Kiprop who moved from Iten to Kaptagat as her training base.

KIprop will have to battle with the on-form Peres Jepchirchir who holds the fastest time on paper of 2:17.16 that she got at the 2020 Valencia Marathon.

She will also face Nancy Kiprop who was fourth the last time the race was held in 2019, and Viola Lagat, the younger sister of five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat.

While Lagat will be racing his elder brother the five times Olympian Bernard will be part of the broadcast team that will be doing commentary.

 

Brigid Kosgei targets third straight London Marathon title

Tokyo Olympic silver medallist, Brigid Kosgei will attempt to win her third successive women’s title at the London Marathon that will be held on Sunday (3) in the Streets of London.

The 27-year-old, who is recovering from the heat and humidity of Sapporo in Japan in early August, is likely to face considerably cooler and damper conditions in the British capital.

The worry is whether she has recovered and rediscovered sufficient fitness given the short turnaround since the Games, where she finished in second place behind Peres Jepchirchir.

“My body was very tired after the Olympics but I did a lot of preparation to correct this and now I have come to London to do my best,” said Kosgei, who took only a couple of days off after her marathon at the Games before getting back into training.

On claiming a hat-trick of titles in London this weekend, Kosgei added: “I love London so I would really like to do that here. I am ready as I have prepared well as I want to defend my title.”

Mary Keitany, who retired a few days ago, won London three times in recent years – the latter with a women-only world record of 2:17.01. This is a natural target for Kosgei, who holds the outright women’s world record with with a time of 2:14.04 that she got at the 2019 Chicago Marathon.

Paula Radcliffe also won three London Marathon titles, but Katrin Dörre from Germany will be remembered in history books as the only woman who has won the race back to back from 1992 to 1994.

Kosgei won her first London crown two years ago in 2:18.20 but then returned last year during the pandemic to win an elite- only race in 2:18.58.

The World women record-holder was speaking at the pre-event press conferences in a hotel just outside Windsor along with rival runners Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya and Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia after they had arrived on a charter flight from east Africa.

The East African elite athletes were carried in a special flight which was arranged by the race organizers due to the pandemic.

Jepkosgei is the reigning New York City Marathon champion while Dibaba is a two-time winner in the Tokyo Marathon.

Mary Keitany retires from running

World record holder and seven-time World Marathon Majors winner Mary Keitany has hanged her running shoes.

Keitany announced her retirement on Wednesday (22) after a stellar career which saw her win the London Marathon on three occasions and the New York Marathon four times, as well as triumph at the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships.

The 39 years-old, also still holds the marathon world record for a women-only race, having clocked a stunning 2:17.01 when winning the third of her Virgin Money London Marathon titles in 2017.

Keitany’s spoke through her management, Demadonna Athletic Promotions, “However, I’m sad to say, a back injury that I suffered in late 2019 made a decision about my retirement for me. I couldn’t get the treatment I wanted in Europe because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions last year and every time I thought I had got over the injury and started training hard, it became a problem again. So now is the time to say goodbye – if only as an elite runner – to the sport I love so much.”

Keitany first came to global attention in 2007, after local success in Kenya the previous year, with a series of good performances in European half marathons which then earned her a place in the Kenyan team at that year’s World Half Marathon Championships.

Keitany won the 2009 world half marathon title in Birmingham, England, by over a minute in 1:06:36, at the time the second fastest mark ever on a record-legal course and an African record. She also led Kenya to the team gold medals.

After finishing third in New York on her marathon debut in 2010, her first major marathon win came in her next race over the classic distance when she triumphed in the 2011 Virgin Money London Marathon and further victories in the British capital came in 2012 and 2017.

She will also be remembered fondly for her three impressive consecutive wins in the New York Marathon between 2014 and 2016 before winning in the Big Apple again in 2018.

“As for the future, I haven’t fully decided on my plans but I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family. My children are currently 13 and eight. In addition, I am involved with some local charitable enterprises,” said Keitany, who added that she still intends to pay close attention to what is happening in the world of distance running.

Joyciline Jepkosgei eyes New Delhi Half Marathon title

After clinching Family Bank Half marathon title in Eldoret, reigning world half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei will be eyeing for another title at the New Delhi half marathon that will be held in New Delhi, India.

This race has been dominated by Kenyan athletes, will be good for Valencia half marathon champion as she prepares to hit marathon in New Year.

The Iten based run will be in action on 21st October as she faces 2017 Chicago marathon winner Tirunesh Dibaba.

Dibaba is a three time Olympic champion and the same scriot will be written since they met first at the Ras al Khaimah (RAK) Hal Marathon when Jepkosgei finished third and the Ethiopian legend was fifth; secondly in May this year at the Manchester 10km in Great Britain when Dibaba won in 31:08 to 31:57.

The 25 year-old won the 2017 Prague half marathon with a world record of 1:04:52 before bringing her record down to 1:04:51 at Valencia half marathon.

The world half marathon silver medalist will be chasing to lower the course record of 1:06.54 that was set by Mary Keitany in 2009.

Kipsang and Kiplagat focus on New York despite running in Berlin last month

Defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor leads a host of stars to next month’s New York Marathon.

Kamworor, who is the three-time World Half Marathon champion, will face stiff competition from several of his compatriots in the 42km race during the ‘Big Apple’ race.

Kamworor clocked 2:10:53 to win the event last year.

The defending champion will be up against former winner and world record holder Wilson Kipsang, who competed at last month’s Berlin Marathon, finishing third in 2:06:48.

The 2017 London Marathon champion, Daniel Wanjiru, will also be in the mix.

Wanjiru has a personal best of 2:05:21 set at the Amsterdam Marathon two years ago and will fancy his chances of performing well at the event.

Former New York City Marathon champion Stanley Biwott will also be seeking to reclaim the crown he won in 2015 in 2:10:34 while Stephen Sambu, who clinched the New York City Half Marathon in 2016 in 1:01:16, has also been entered.

In the women’s category, two- time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, who finished fourth at the Berlin three weeks ago in 2:21:18, aims to unseat last year’s champion Sharlene Flanagan of the USA.

London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot will also be seeking to win her second marathon crown after her exploit in the British capital in April.

Mary Keitany will be chasing her fourth New York City Marathon crown after victories in 2014-2016.

Keitany is one the country’s most decorated marathoners with wins in other big city marathons including London, where she has won three times (2011, 2012 and 2016).

US-based Sally Kipyego made her marathon debut in 2016 in New York, finishing second to Keitany in 2:28.01 and will be aiming to go one place better.

Vivian Cheruiyot to battle Joyciline Jepkosgei at Great North Run

Kenyans will once again be the talk in the City of Newcastle as world’s fastest woman over the half-marathon distance Joyciline Jepkosgei will face off with the 2018 London marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot at the 38th edition Great North Run that will be held on Sunday (9) in England.

Jepkosgei, the world half marathon record holder, has been added to the field for the world’s biggest half-marathon this weekend and will be the main competitor to challenge the reigning Olympic 5,000m Cheruiyot in the iconic race.

“I have no injury concerns after shaking off the foot problem back in March. I hope to do well in my return to England,” said Jepkosgei..

The Kenyan clocked 64.51 in the Prague Half Marathon last year where she also broke the world 10km, 15km and 20km records.

She went on to beat her own 10km world record time back in Prague three months later when she clocked 29.43 to become the first woman to ever run under the 30 minutes mark in the distance.

Cheruiyot won on her debut over the distance in 2016, and finished second to Mary Keitany last year.

“I want to be on top of that podium again next month as I look forward to returning to England for the Simplyhealth Great North Run,” Cheruiyot said.

Last year, Keitany led Kenyans to sweep the top five places at in Great North Run women’s elite race.

The World marathon record holder timed 1:05:59 seconds, the third fastest women’s time in the race’s history for her third win.

Cheruiyot finished in second place with Caroline Kipkirui closing the podium three finish.

 

Keitany targets to regain New York Marathon title

Kenyan Mary Keitany will be targeting a fourth victory at the TCS New York City Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label race, on 4 November.

Keitany and her compatriot, 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot, will join previously announced Shalane Flanagan, the 2017 winner, and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden of the US in a race that features 10 Olympians and three Abbott World Marathon Majors race champions.

Keitany, 36, is the women’s only marathon record-holder who finished runner-up in this race last year after notching three successive titles. In 2016, she had a dominating performance in which she surged ahead at Mile 14 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.

“I was disappointed not to defend my title last year, but I was not 100 percent healthy and Shalane ran a strong race,” said Keitany, the 2012 and 2016 World Marathon Majors champion. In April 2017, Keitany won her third London Marathon title, breaking the women’s only marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01.

Joining Keitany from the international side will be two Ethiopians, reigning IAAF World Half Marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta and Mamitu Daska, who finished third in New York last year.

Molly Huddle, who was third in New York in 2016, 2018 Boston Marathon runner-up Sarah Sellers, 2016 New York runner-up Sally Kipyego, and 2017 fifth-place finisher Allie Kieffer are also in the line-up.

Vivian Cheruiyot Eyes Second Great North Run Victory

Reigning Olympic 5,000m Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot is eyeing her second Great North Run victory in the next race scheduled for September 9 in the United Kingdom.

Cheruiyot,  who is determined to take the title will also return to Tyneside as she bids to make it two victories in three years.

Cheruiyot won on her debut over the distance in 2016, and finished second to winner Mary Keitany last year.

“I want to be on top of that podium again next month as I look forward to returning to England for the Simplyhealth Great North Run,” Cheruiyot said.

Last year, Keitany led Kenyans to sweep the top five places at in Great North Run women’s elite race.

The World marathon record holder timed 1:05:59 seconds, the third fastest women’s time in the race’s history for her third win.

Vivian Cheruiyot was placed second, and Caroline Kipkirui third.

Keitany broke clear of the pack in the opening stages and set a tough pace as she finished one minute and 45 seconds clear of fellow Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, who won last year.

Kamworor and Flanagan to defend their New York City Marathon titles

Reigning TCS New York City Marathon champions Geoffrey Kamworor and Shalane Flanagan will defend their titles at the IAAF Gold Label road race on Sunday 4 November.

At last year’s race, Kamworor claimed his first major marathon victory while Flanagan became the first US woman to win in New York since Miki Gorman did so in 1977.

Kamworor held off compatriot Wilson Kipsang down the final turns in Central Park to win last year. The 2015 runner-up separated himself from the field with a 4:31 penultimate mile to finish in 2:10:53.

The Kenyan has won the past three IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and recorded three consecutive sub-2:07 performances at the Berlin Marathon from 2012-2014, with his 2:06:12 clocking from 2012 remaining his personal best.

“Racing once more in the TCS New York City Marathon means so much to me,” said the three-time world cross-country champion. “It is my favourite race, and although thousands of miles separate my training base in Kaptagat, Kenya to New York, the event feels like home.”

Flanagan ended a 40-year drought for US women at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon by seizing the crown from Kenya’s Mary Keitany with a time of 2:26:53. With her first victory in just her second appearance at the New York City Marathon – she was runner-up in her marathon debut in 2010 – Flanagan became the sixth US women’s champion in the event.

The 16-time national champion and Olympic silver medallist will join previously announced Des Linden, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, and Allie Kieffer, the fifth-place finisher at last year’s TCS New York City Marathon.

“When I think about returning to race in New York City, I’m flooded with magical memories,” said Flanagan. “My heart skips a beat, I get butterflies in my stomach, and my palms get sweaty. New York City is incredibly special to me. It’s where I ran my first marathon in 2010, placing second, and of course, my dream-come-true moment in 2017 when I won.”