KEITANY’S DOMINANT RUN
KENYAN WARMS UP FOR HER NEXT 26.2-MILER WITH HALF-MARATHON WIN
MARY KEITANY has been in the form of her life this year and one more victory to add to her 2017 success story bodes well ahead of her next marathon in New York in November.
It was an impressive win, too. While the Kenyan might not have improved on her half-marathon best of 65:13 from Ras Al Khaimah in February – a time that places her fourth on the world all-time list – or her own course record of 65:39 from 2014, she wasn’t too far away despite a solo run in windy conditions.
Clocking 65:59, the 35-yearold secured a one minute and 46 second victory over 2016 champion Vivian Cheruiyot. Great Birmingham 10km winner Caroline Kipkirui was third in 69:52 as Kenyan athletes not only filled the top three spots but had the first five finishers, with Magdalyne Masai and Betsy Saina next over the line in South Shields.
As well as her half-marathon PB, Keitany also improved her 10km best to 30:41 last month. Then, of course, there was her superb women-only marathon world record of 2:17:01 set in London in April.
Using her run from
Newcastle to South Shields as an opportunity to test where she is at ahead of the TCS New York City Marathon, Keitany passed 5km in 16:01 and 10km in 31:35 with sixth and seventh downhill miles of 4:49 and 4:47 respectively helping her on her way to her dominant win.
“It was great for me to win for the third time,” said Keitany, who will return to New York as a three-time defending champion.
“It was not easy but I tried my best. It was windy and, because I was alone, I thought I might be disrupted with the wind but I am really happy to cross the line being first.
“The spectators were making a lot of noise on the way and it helped me to try to win.”
On her preparations for New York, she added: “This Great North Run was part of my programme and I will go back now to continue my programme for New York.
“I was just coming here to test myself, where I am, so that when I go back home I know where to start and see what other work I can do and what is remaining.
“I am happy. I know now where I am.”
Olympic 5000m champion Cheruiyot was also pleased with her performance. “I am happy because I am still new in road races,” said the 34-yearold, who has nine global track medals in the 5000m and 10,000m. “I know I am going to improve, maybe when I come back next year.
“To come from 5000m and 10,000m to the half-marathon, it is not something that is easy.”
Kipkirui, whose win in Birmingham earlier this year had come just seven days after she helped pace Keitany to her world marathon record, was making her half-marathon debut. “It was my first time for a half-marathon and I am so happy to be on the podium,” she said. “It was not easy for me but I tried my best.”
Masai might have just missed out on the podium, but her race day will remain memorable for another reason as she was greeted at the finishing line by her partner Jake Robertson – runner-up in the men’s race – who then proposed. Masai said yes.
Early stages: a large lead group heads out on to the course taking them from Newcastle to South Shields
Podium places: Mary Keitany is joined by Vivian Cheruiyot and Caroline Kipkirui