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Kenya’s Cheruiyot and Keitany face
off in Great North run in Newcastle

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A year ago, four-time Olympic and five-time world medalist Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya announced her arrival on the road race circuit with victory at the Great North Run in Newcastle, England.

On Sept. 10, the 33-year-old will be returning to defend her crown under immense pressure from some of the best road runners and marathon icons.

However, stiff competition has turned out to be what turns on Cheruiyot throughout her track career and she will gladly take on any defiance in her strides.

Among those out to stop Cheruiyot will be women’s marathon world record holder Mary Keitany, Britain’s Jo Pavey and compatriot Betsy Saina.

“This type of competition brings the best out of me. I fear nobody and when we have these people all lining up, it can only inspire you to bring out your best performance,” she said Wednesday in Nairobi.

Cheruiyot claimed the win in last year’s race ahead of fellow Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo in a thrilling finale, with three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia settling for third position.

“I’m looking forward to returning to England for this race,” said Cheruiyot. “It was perfect to win there last year and even better if I can win two in a row. There will be some tough competition on the day.”

But the entry of Keitany, who is the New York marathon champion and Saina is expected to spice up the recipe and give a prognosis of how the trio will like to end their marathon calendar at the end of the year.

Saina, 29, tasted victory on British soil when she won last October’s Great Scottish Run half-marathon, and the distance runner, who placed fifth in the 10,000m at last year’s Olympics in Rio, is looking forward to her return.

“I love competing in the UK and I’m really excited to be coming back to take on the Great North Run. Some of the world’s best runners are going to be racing here and I hope to be among them. I have heard great things about this event so it is something to look forward to.”

Both Saina and Cheruiyot left Nairobi on Wednesday for England to train and prepare for the race. “I am happy to travel with my friend (Cheruiyot) and race together,” said Saina.



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