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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

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