Nairobi — Two-time World Champion Hellen Obiri will finally make her long awaited debut in the marathon on Sunday in New York, and the former 5,000 track icon says she is excited and jittery ahead of the major milestone.
Obiri ran her final race on track as she won silver in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Oregon and having already run three half marathon races and a few other 10km road races, she is ready to dove into the big pool in marathon.
“I am excited, but at the same time as the date draws closer, I get a few butterflies in the stomach,” Obiri told Capital Sport from New York, where she arrived early this week for the race.
“But for me, I am always happy to start a new thing. Always, whenever I move to a new distance, I usually do well, like from when I moved from 800 to 1500 then to 5,000 and then 10,000. I am eagerly waiting to perform well,” she noted.
While it is her first Marathon, Obiri’s pedigree alone shoulders the weight of expectation on her but she says she is under no pressure as her only aim is to run a good race, regardless of how the final positioning will look like.
“I am going into the race under no pressure. If I get to the podium, that will be a great achievement for me and a good start will definitely be a motivation for the next marathon. I am running as an inexperienced Marathoner and I don’t want to pressure myself with targets,” she stated.
Prior to running in the Marathon, Obiri has done well half the distance. She has won three; two Great North Runs, and the Istanbul Half Marathon which she clinched on second attempt after finishing third on debut in 2021.
She also finished second at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, making up some good pedigree heading into the Marathon.
But she knows the 42km distance is a different ballgame all together especially in New York.
“I have been told that New York is not an easy course and there are no pace makers. It is a race of you against the clock. I just want to go and set a good time for myself. I have watched the race on TV many times and I am looking forward to run,” she added.
Obiri says she feels her body is in good shape, having prepared for this race for the past three months at her base in Ngong.
“I have prepared very well and things have gone well. I have been getting used to the Marathon workouts because they are different from track. Over the last two weeks I have reduced the intensity because it is close to race day bit I am feeling okay,” she added.
Obiri has been doing more long runs in her workout and her longest distance to cover has been 38km. She says her body is already used to the punishing conditions of a long run, and discloses that she has been taking a lot of advice from those who are before her, including Edna Kiplagat, the experienced Marathoner who will also be running in New York.
“I look at Edna and learn a lot from her. She is an experienced lady and at 40 is still going strong. I want to learn from her and be as consistent as she has been. Running with her in New York will make it even easier because we have always been in constant communication and we talk a lot. So running with her will be an added advantage for me on my debut,” she said.
Obiri added; “I have also been looking at the other athletes who make their debuts in the marathon and their performances always encourage me. I look at how Joyciline ran in 2019 on her debut and she did well and it makes me believe that why not me?”
The fact that her last race on track was a medal finish, Obiri says eh has an extra push of confidence and she is looking forward to battle out with the more experienced runners and get a medal in New York as well.
With Peres Jepchirchir ruled out of Sunday’s race with injury, Obiri, Edna and Viola Lagat will be flying the Kenyan flag and once again, they will hope the national anthem will serenade the early morning sunrise on the streets of New York.