Twice Bitten Keitany Strikes Back In New York To Restore Pride

Nov 05 - by Mutwiri Mutuota for sportpesa news

Fourth victory at the Big Apple on Sunday returns 36 year-old Kenyan to the top of women marathon running following defeats last year and 2018 London races

Mary Keitany of Kenya poses with her first place medal at the finish line during the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon on November 4, 2018 in Central Park in New York City. PHOTO/AFP

  • Dusting herself off for an assault at a fourth London title in April, Keitany alongside Ethiopian track great, Tirunesh Dibaba, set off in world record pace, intent on mowing down Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 world record set at the same course in 2003
  • Running unchallenged for most of the second half of the tough race, Keitany flew through the boroughs of the American commercial capital, at one stage in a simply insane finishing 2:16 pace before completing a fine evening of work in 2:22:48
  • Cheruiyot had to be content with a runner-up spot after struggling with a variety of injuries, aware that on this particular day she had run into an express train in Keitany


NAIROBI, Kenya- Once bitten, twice shy they say. For Mary Keitany, it was a case of twice bitten after losing the 2017 New York and 2018 London marathon titles, threatening her status as the most eminent female marathoner on the planet.

Having set the staggering women’s only world record of 2:17:01 at last year’s London showdown to complete a hat trick of victories at the prestigious race, Keitany lined up for a defence of her New York crown later that fall.

However, to her and indeed the shock of everyone watching the race unfold around the world, a powerful finish, the kind she is used to dishing out herself, from home runner Shalane Flanagan, eclipsed her forcing her to accept silver in 2:27:54.

Dusting herself off for an assault at a fourth London title in April, Keitany alongside Ethiopian track great, Tirunesh Dibaba, set off in world record pace, intent on mowing down Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 world record set at the same course in 2003.

However, the suicidal pace cost the pair in the latter stages of the race as countrywoman Vivian Cheruiyot attacked from behind to take the victory in 2:18:31, the fourth fastest in history as Keitany was forced down the finishing order to finish fifth in 2:24:27.

Unbowed, Keitany retreated back home near Iten, the self-proclaimed ‘University of Champions’ to begin the process of restoring her status as the queen of marathon running and on Sunday, no one was left in doubt when she returned to New York.

Perhaps it played to her hands that the spotlight was not on the 36 year-old and having learned painful lessons, Keitany timed her race to near perfection, hammering the field to charge to a fourth title at the Big Apple.

Running unchallenged for most of the second half of the tough race, Keitany flew through the boroughs of the American commercial capital, at one stage in a simply insane 2:16 pace before completing a fine evening of work in 2:22:48.

Greatest marathoners

It was the second fastest time ever ran on the course- falling just 17 seconds short of the course record-with Cheruiyot coming home for the Kenyan 1-2 in 2:26:02.

“She’s going to go down as one of the greatest marathoners in history. The way she can execute and crush her competition over the last part of the race is incredible. She’s a rare athlete and one to be celebrated,” Flanagan, who vacated the throne for the brilliant Keitany gracefully, said in paying tribute to truly one of a kind.

“Let’s try to put in perspective just how good Keitany was today. We spoke to an agent at the finish line who pointed out that even if you started the American women at halfway and asked them to race Keitany from that point on, they would have been overmatched.

“And those American women included the reigning NYC champ, the reigning Boston champ, and the AR holder in the half marathon,” respected American athletics website, www.letsrun.com wrote as part of their report.

And that does not even adequately describe Keitany at her imperious best on the New York course on Sunday, clocking a stunning 1:06:58 in the second half of the race to crush the opposition.

“I didn’t want to rush at the beginning to suffer at the end. I wanted to be comfortable so I could be strong at the finish,” Keitany said after the latest template performance in a marathon career that catapulted her right to the top of her trade yet again.

Cheruiyot had to be content with a runner-up spot after struggling with a variety of injuries, aware that on this particular day she had run into an express train in Keitany.

“I had a hamstring injury and knee and calf injuries so I was running in pain throughout. I have to be happy with second,” the Olympic 5000m champion offered.

With their head to head score in the marathon reading 2-1 to Keitany, with the latter having breezed to victory at the 2016 London Marathon where Cheruiyot made her debut, the spring season cannot come soon enough for the world to witness another gripping showdown.