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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
World record holder Jepkosgei, Keitany lead elite
runners for Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The women’s half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei leads a strong Kenyan delegation to the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Jepkosgei signed off 2017 with a strong showing in Valencia where she broke her own world record, winning the half marathon in October in a time of 1:04:51.

She has broken five world records in five months and became the first woman to break the 30 minute barrier for a road 10K.  Those records will be history as she lines up in the UAE for the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon.

“I relish the challenge of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon. It is a top race with every big name ready to pounce for the title. But this is what brings out the best in me and I hope to win and run another fast time,” the 25-year-old Kenyan said.

Like most runners, Jepkosgei will be using the race to gauge her preparation ahead of the World Half Marathon in Valencia on March 24.

But that can wait as she has enough of a challenge at hand with organizers saying this year’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon will feature arguably the best women’s line-up in history.

Jepkosgei, who is also the Prague Half Marathon champion, will be leading the line-up and there will be other fast paced runners including eight women who have recorded a sub-67 minute time.

Kenya’s Mary Keitany (65:13), the London marathon champion is the next quickest in the field. Keitany has already made it known that she is preparing the defense of her title in London in April.

“The race at Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon is important to me because I want to see how my body will react. The target is to run a fast time,” Keitany said.

The Kenyan will be given male pacesetters for her quest to break the world record in London in April.

“I feel that I can attack the time of 2:15:25. At last year’s London Marathon, I was feeling good but it was hard to run nearly half the race on my own. By having male pacemakers, I will be able to have support throughout the race,” Keitany said.

“Obviously, any world record is contingent on everything being right on the day. London has shown it has the course for world records to be broken and I hope my form and health stay strong and that the weather is kind on the day,” she added.

Of immediate importance will be to win in Ras Al Khaimah. Alongside Jepkosgei, there will also be Fancy Chemutai (65:36) and Edith Chelimo (65:52).

Kenya’s Gladys Cherono (66:07) and Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba (66:11) will join them while Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot is only 11th fastest on the roster with a time of 67:44.

Cherono and Cheruiyot are also lined up to compete in London and are using the event to gauge their fitness.

However, reigning champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya will have to sit out the race as she is on maternity leave. 

           

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