Champ Kiplagat seeks fast victory in tough Chicago marathon

Nairobi, Sep 14 (IANS) Chicago marathon champion Florence Kiplagat hopes to post a fast time on her return to defend her crown on October 9 against a spirited challenge from an Ethiopian legion.

Kiplagat, who missed out in making the Kenya team to the Rio Olympics, is keen to run a faster time if challenged though her main task is to win the race, reports Xinhua.

“Running a fast marathon is always on my mind. I am not saying I will try to break the world record, but I want to push my body further and see if we can set a fast time,” said Kiplagat on Tuesday from Eldoret.

Having won the Berlin marathon twice in 2011 and 2013 and the Chicago marathon last year, world half marathon record holder (1:05:09 hour) Kiplagat believes it is not about the level of competition to encounter but her own preparedness that will aid in her winning.

“I run my own race and my preparations are not done with one individual opponent in mind. I know all those elite runners want to win. I will do my own running and hopefully be able to carry the day,” she added.

She returns to Chicago to defend the title she won last year when she captured her first Chicago marathon victory in 2:23:33 hours.

“I’m naturally talented, so I don’t need too much training to win a race. Fast running is part of me that is why I don’t strain while running,” said Kiplagat.

Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Gulume Chala as well as Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer could make it difficult for Kiplagat to defend her title.

Baysa, the 2010 and 2012 Chicago marathon champion, stands out as Kiplagat’s main challenger. She is the reigning Boston marathon champion and has victories in the past at the Paris (twice), Istanbul, Xiamen and Saitama marathons.

Baysa made a statement in Chicago in 2012 when she beat her opponent to the line by one second in an all-out sprint finish down Columbus Drive, running a personal best of 2:22:03.

Kipketer, making her Chicago marathon debut, looked ripe for a podium finish with four miles to go at this year’s Boston marathon but faded to fifth.

Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Kipketer has a marathon best of 2:23:02 and two previous victories in Amsterdam and Mumbai.

Chala recorded her personal best when she won the 2015 Frankfurt marathon, stopping the clock at 2:23:12.

–IANS

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