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Peres Jepchirchir has grabbed another marathon crown just three months after her Olympic title win at the New York City Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race.
Africa Today News, New York gathered that before now, no athlete won both the Olympic marathon and the New York City Marathon before Jepchirchir made history by achieving both in the same year, clocking 2:22:39 after surging away from her compatriot Viola Cheptoo and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh in the closing stages of the US race.
Jepchirchir had been to the fore of a 12-strong lead group that went through 10km in 35:02 and nine athletes remained together at the half way point, reached in 1:12:43.
At 27km the pace had picked up and the race was between Jepchirchir, Cheptoo, Yeshaneh and the USA’s Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel. As they reached the Bronx, Jepchirchir and Yeshaneh began to break away, but Cheptoo – making her marathon debut – wasn’t willing to be left behind. She closed the gap and the trio ran together until Jepchirchir kicked with 800m to go.
It was a move that couldn’t be covered and the 28-year-old stormed away untroubled, missing the course record by just eight seconds.
Cheptoo, a former middle distance specialist, was five seconds behind her and claimed the runner-up spot in 2:22:44, with her brother Bernard Lagat, the five-time Olympian, supporting her from the commentary box.
For Yeshaneh, the former world half marathon record-holder, her time of 2:22:52 gained her another major marathon podium place, two years after her runner-up finish at the Chicago Marathon.
‘It was my great honour to be the winner of the New York City Marathon, the only champion of the Olympics to win the New York City Marathon,’ said Jepchirchir.
‘It was a great opportunity for me and it was my plan. My preparation was short, but I tried my best.’
Asked about her finishing kick, the two-time world half marathon champion said the way she won the second of those titles in Gdynia last year had given her confidence.
‘That time, I accelerated, and I won my gold medal in Poland, For sure, I knew myself and my finishing kick. When I am with people and I see the finish line, I just get some extra energy and I don’t know where it has come from, but I knew it would lead to victory’ she said.
It was her third marathon win within 12 months, after Jepchirchir also claimed victory in Valencia last December, and given her experience she was even able to offer support to debutante Cheptoo during the race.
‘She was encouraging me to keep pushing and end up in a good position,’ Cheptoo explained.
Seidel achieved fourth place, improving her PB to 2:24:42 despite later revealing that she had broken two of her ribs in the lead up to the event, while Namibia’s world bronze medallist Helalia Johannes was fifth in 2:26:09 and the USA’s Kellyn Taylor sixth in 2:26:10. Annie Frisbie was seventh on her marathon debut, finishing eight seconds behind her US compatriot.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK