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Kenyan Gladys Cherono will not defend Berlin marathon title

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s former world half marathon champion Gladys Cherono will not defend her Berlin marathon crown on Sept. 25.

Instead, Cherono is polishing up her skills in training as she targets a new challenge to compete at the Chicago marathon in October.

The 33-year-old became the first woman to win both the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres at the African Championships in 2012 and has been on a steady rise in the road race ever since.

Having won the World Half Marathon in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013, she gave up the chance to defend her crown in Cardiff, Wales in March to focus on the London marathon.

Although she never won in London and lost her quest to compete at the Olympics for Kenya, she believes she still has what it takes to win big city marathons.

“It is always important to plan for your races and I believe my management have secured me another race and it will not be in Berlin. But I always train hard and hopefully, when I step on the race track, I will be able to weather the storm and have a good performance,” she said.

Last year, Cherono won the Berlin marathon in a record time of 2:19:25, a time that placed her seventh on the women’s all-time list.

But while she will be away, organizers of the Berlin marathon have signed up Ethiopians to take up the challenge of setting another fast time.

The Ethiopians are the favorites led by last year’s runner-up Aberu Kebede, who is not only the fastest but has a great deal of experience in running in the German capital.

Her tally from three appearances comprises two wins and one second place, an impressive record. Kebede won in 2010 in 2:23:58 and set her current personal best of 2:20:30 two years later when she took that race again.

Last year she was beaten only by Cherono, who ran the fastest time in the world with 2:19:25 with Kebede runner-up in 2:20:48. Now Kebede’s main target is to break the 2:20 barrier.

Two more Ethiopian women will be among Kebede’s strongest opponents: Amane Beriso took a big step forward with second place in 2:20:48 in Dubai in January. Birhane Dibaba ran her best of 2:22:30 two years ago as runner-up in Tokyo. Their compatriot Ruti Aga (2:25:27) could also have a say in the outcome.

“It’s noticeable with the women’s race that, since we have just had the Olympics, many of the top runners ran in Rio. Compared to the men, the women’s top marathon runners worldwide have not quite the strength in depth. But the situation also offers the chance for another runner to make a name for herself,” said race director Mark Milde in an email.

“We hope to have world class performances and a fast race.”



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