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Kenya champion Edna Kiplagat eyes Berlin Marathon
win - only podium missing in majors collection

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya says she is keen to run fast time and improve on her best time in her debut at the Berlin marathon on Sunday.

However, the 38-year-old Kenyan is not contemplating hanging up her spikes even as she is pushed to the edge by the younger rivals including race defending champion Gladys Cherono and Chicago marathon champion Tirunesh Dibaba.

"After a few days of recovery from the tough race I had in Boston, I feel better and ready to begin my easy and steady charge to glory. Berlin is my next stop.

"It is a fast course and hopefully, I will improve my best time. I must thank you all for great support," said Kiplagat on Tuesday in Iten.

Kiplagat began her World Marathon Majors (WMM) odyssey with victory in 2010 at the New York marathon.

She has since been to Tokyo, Chicago, Boston and London marathon where she set her best time of 2:19:50.

If Kiplagat finishes in Berlin, she will become the first-ever elite able-bodied woman to finish all six WMM. If she finishes in top three positions, she will also be the only woman to get to podium at all six of the world majors.

  Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat of Kenya | Coastweek

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat of Kenya celebrates after winning the Women's Marathon IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow. XINHUA PHOTO - LI MING
"I have no injury concerns.
It has been a great pleasure for me in marathon career. My story has been a success and it will be great pleasure to run in Berlin against some of the international elite runners," she said.

She was second again in the English capital in 2013 and then added a second straight world title with gold in Moscow that same year.

Her first win in London came in third in 2014.

She went to Tokyo and claimed silver and later in 2016 she was second at the Chicago marathon.

Last year, she won in Boston to be crowned the WMM champion.

Now the only piece missing in her jigsaw is a medal from Berlin to clear all the six WMM races.

"I have done five major races in WMM.

"I started in New York in 2010 and it was victory for me.

"It is my dream to run the six majors and the only race I have not gone to is in Berlin and hopefully, I will do it and win before I retire," said Kiplagat.

If conditions are favorable in Berlin, Dibaba has said she will attack the world record, set by Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in 2002 with 2:15:25 in London.

But she must also be wary of the challenge Kiplagat and Cherono pose to her quest.

"I want to retain my title and I have done well in training.

"There are no injury concerns and I look forward to a good race in Berlin," said Cherono.

Berlin marks the start of Series 12 of WMM which will finish a year from now.

In the men race, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge returns to defend his title against the former world record holder Wilson Kipsang.

Focus will be on the two trying to break compatriot Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02.27 world record time set in 2014.

Kipchoge will be attacking his personal best of 2:03:05 which is just eight seconds slower.

Others in the field are Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, Kenyans Eliud Kiptanui and Amos Kipruto, Ethiopian Abera Kuma and Japan’s Arata Fujiwara.


Champion Gladys Cherono pledges to retain her Berlin marathon title

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Berlin marathon champion Gladys Cherono says she will take no prisoners as she schemes her title defense on Sunday.

It will be her third shot at the Berlin marathon, a race she has won twice in her debut in 2015 and in 2017.

Last year Cherono won in 2:20:23, ahead of Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga who crossed the line in 2:20:41 while another Kenyan Valary Jemeli was in third place after clocking 2:20:53.

"I am ready for my title defense and anyone coming up against me must be prepared for a rough ride," warned Cherono Wednesday in Nairobi.

"There have been rain challenges in Eldoret as I trained, but I am happy that I have gone through the program and I am ready for the race on Sunday."

Cherono faces a strong field which includes Chicago marathon champion Tirunesh Dibaba and two time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat. However, that has not left the defending champion with sleepless nights.

"It will not be my first time to fight against Dibaba or Kiplagat," she said.

Indeed during the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Cherono had to finish second in the 10,000m race in which Dibaba won.

But that does not mean she is ready to throw in the towel yet.

"It is not about past records," she added.

"Marathon is a different competition and it will require everyone to be at their best form to prevail.

"I look upon my own strength and seek to draw my best performance on what my legs can do and not what others have."

In 2015, Cherono in her debut Berlin Marathon managed to run her personal best of 2:19:25. She skipped 2016 season with hamstring injury but returned to win Berlin in 2017.

"We all know that Berlin has a very fast course. Mary Keitany raised the bar when she run 2:17 minutes in London and now we all have to run faster.

"I look forward to run my personal best.

"The team is strong but I will run my race and my target is to win my third Berlin title," said Cherono.

Cherono’s coach and husband Joseph Bwambok is expecting a good result from her as she defends her Berlin Marathon title on Sunday.

"Cherono is strong and in good shape this year compared to last year.

"I’m happy she was able to finish her program well without an injury and we are expecting good results," the coach said.

Dibaba, the third fastest woman in marathon after Paula Radcliffe ad Keitany, holds a personal best time of 2:17.56 and is the favorite.

Others in the race are Kiplagat, Ethiopians Yebrugal Melese, Ruti Aga and Aselefech Mergia.

Pacesetters plot world record run as champs focus on
Kenyan Noah Kiptoo Kipchoge in Berlin marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Long distance runners Noah Kiptoo Kiprotich and Sammy Kitwara hold the key to breaking of the world record at the Berlin marathon on Sunday.

While the two are likely not to finish the race in their roles as pacesetters for their clients New York Marathon silver medalist Wilson Kipsang and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge cannot be overlooked.

Both Kipsang and Kipchoge will make attempts to break the 2:02:57 world record set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto on the same course back in 2014.

Speaking in Nairobi Wednesday prior to their departure to Berlin, Kiprotich, 29, said his work is to run up to 31km and leave his elder brother Kipsang to carry on.

"I will be looking forward to a good race where I want to help my brother lower the course record, which is the world record.

"We have been hunting it for some time now," said Kiprotich.

On the other hand, Kitwara, 32, who will pace-run Kipchoge says they have gone through all the requirements and he is focused on doing his job.

He also believes despite the high pace he will run in the first 35 kilometers, he dreams of finishing the race.

"The work is simple, lead Kipchoge up to the 35km mark.

"Kipchoge has clear target, he is going for the world record, but remember he will not be running against the clock alone, but a very tough field which includes Kipsang and Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese.

"They are strong runners, whom I have competed against

"It will be a tough race.

"Eliud is going there to run for a world record.

"Forget anything else said, if the conditions are good, the world record is coming down," said Kitwara.

Kipsang held the world record for one year when he broke it in 2013 clocking an impressive 2:03:23 to eclipse the 2:03:38, which had been posted by compatriot Patrick Makau.

It was the only race that Eliud Kipchoge has ever lost since he turned to marathon in 2013.

Kipchoge finished second.

However, Kimetto improved the mark to become the first man to run under two hours and three minutes.

He clocked the current mark of 2:02:57 in 2014, which has remained in force till today.

Last year, Kipchoge attempted to break the record on his third time running in Berlin but poor weather, rainy and windy conditions prevented him.

He clocked 2:03:32.

"Kipchoge would have broken it last year because I was the one who paced him.

"The conditions were too hostile - it was too rainy and windy.

"We hope for the best this time. We have planned to pass the halfway mark at by 61:15 to 61:20 minutes.

"He is hoping to run a world record of 2:02:40 or thereabouts," he said.

On the other hand, Kipsang has predicted the record will be lowered down to 2:02:50.

Since his debut in the event in Hamburg in 2013, Kipchoge has won every marathon from Chicago (2014), Berlin (2015 and 2017) London (2015, 2016 and 2018) and Rio Olympic marathon.

His current personal best time is 2:03:05, which he set when winning London race in 2016.

Berlin marathon bronze medalist leads Kenya charge at Beijing marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Former Barcelona marathon champion Valarie Jemeli says she is ready to rekindle her career when she faces international competition at Sunday’s Beijing marathon in China.

Jameli, who has not raced since finishing second at the Nagoya marathon in March where she clocking 2:22:48 behind Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa (2:21.45) is hopeful to eclipse the women’s course record in the Chinese capital on Sept. 16.

"I have tested my speed and am happy with it.

"|I competed in the 10km Safaricom road race in Iten and won.

"My training has gone on very well and as I focus on Beijing, I hope to do well and win the title," Jemeli said Tuesday in Nairobi.

Jemeli, who is also the Berlin marathon bronze medalist, is leaving nothing to chance as she prepares for her biggest race this year in Beijing.

"It was important to see how my body reacts under competition atmosphere.

"My preparations for Beijing marathon are complete without any injury scare and I know I have the strength to fight off any challenger and win the title," she told Xinhua.

It will be Jemeli’s first attempt to win the Beijing marathon.

Last year, she skipped the tour to China to attempt fast time at the Berlin marathon, but was forced to settle for bronze medal.

Jemeli will however have to face off against defending champion Meselech Beyene of Ethiopia. Beyene, who has won two marathons in China, is returning to defend her title.

"I didn’t expect to win last year," Beyene said last year when she won the race, her first at the Chinese capital.

"I thank all the supporters because the atmosphere was so good, so amazing.

"I hope I can come back next year."

However, for Jemeli, the long term goal is to win and increase her chances of making the Kenya team to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019.

"It is always hard to make the Kenya team. I have the opportunity to win in Beijing and increase my chances.

"It is not down to me, but when I do well in China, it will boost my ranking and hope the coaches will give the chance to run for the country," she added.

The Beijing marathon has received the IAAF Gold Label Road Race award, and is one of three marathons in China to receive the distinction with the others being Xiamen and Shanghai marathons.



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