Kenya: Obiri Praying for Fairytale Marathon Debut in New York After Newcastle Conquest

Nairobi — After a great run at the Great North Run in Newcastle, double world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri is hoping for a similar performance at November’s New York Marathon.

After much success in the women’s 5000m and 10,000m, Obiri has transitioned to the road races and will be making her full marathon debut on November 6 in the Big Apple.

“I am so excited to be running in my first marathon in New York. From here (Great North Run), I am going to go back and prepare well and to ensure I am healthy and ready for that day. Considering it is my debut, there is need to train well. I know there will be many good runners in the race but for me it is all about my preparations,” the World 10,000m silver medalist said.

Obiri led a 1-2 Kenyan finish, clocking 1:07:05 ahead of Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir (1:07:07) and the 2017 World 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana (1:07:10) of Ethiopia.

In a tightly-contested race, Obiri’s time was a minute and half shy of the Great North Run’s course record of 1:04:28, currently held by fellow Kenyan Mary Keitany.

The double Olympic 5000m silver medalist broke away from the leading pack, which included Jepchirchir, Ayana and another Ethiopian, Hiwot Gebrekidan, to power first towards the finish line and clinch her second-ever Great North Run title.

Obiri admitted the race was tough, considering the elite status of her competitors, but nonetheless reiterated she was always confident of coming away with a good result.

“It was a good opportunity to come here and defend my title… this is my second one. I am so happy for what I’ve done today. You know we had the Olympic champion (Peres) in the same race… we had Ayana but all in all I told myself that I am the best and I had to give my best. Last year when I ran here, things were difficult because of Covid but today the crowds were out in full force and the course was also good compared to last year,” Obiri, who timed 1:07:42 to win last year’s edition, said.

She added: “I decided to analyse the race at first and to see who would be the first to kick on but there was none. I did not want to kick early but to wait until the last 200 metres and when there was no one willing to make the first move, I decided to surge ahead at that point.”

Also looking forward to New York is defending champion Jepchirchir who was returning to action for the first time since dropping out of the women’s marathon team to the World Championship due to an injury.

“I am happy for today’s race at the Great North Run. The next step is the New York Marathon. Thanks,” Jepchirchir, who clocked 2:22:39 to win in last year’s edition, said.

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