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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Keitany signals intent for marathon world
record chase in Ras Al Khaimah

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Mary Keitany signaled that she is in fine form ahead of her world record bid at the London Marathon with a searing time in the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon on Feb 9.

The 34-year-old Kenyan, who set a new women’s world record at the 2017 London showpiece last year, came second in RAK with a time of 64:55 minutes, missing out by two seconds to fellow countrywoman Fancy Chemutai, who set a new course record and narrowly missed out on a new world record for 21km distance.

“The marathon world record is something that I have been working towards for several years and I feel I am now in the position where I can really attack the time of 2:15:25 set by Paula Radcliffe,” said Keitany.

“At last year’s London Marathon, I was feeling good but it was hard to run nearly half the race on my own,” she added.

Keitany sits tied at the top of the women’s standings with Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba in the World Marathon Majors (WMM) quest, and the pair will face each other in London on April 22.

Mercy Kosgei, Gladys Cherono and 2017 world champion Rose Chelimo (all from Kenya) also feature in a loaded field in London looking to gatecrash the party.

With Tokyo and Boston to come before then, however, there is potential for the WMM leaderboard to be shaken up before the Series reaches the English capital.

Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga, currently on 16 points, has a chance to pull level at the top if she can win in Japan, while Shalane Flanagan (USA) and Edna Kiplagat of Kenya both line up in Boston knowing victory can put them ahead of the pack.

A second win for the American, following her stunning victory over Keitany in the New York City Marathon, can catapult her to 50 points, while a repeat of her 2017 success on Boston street will see Kiplagat take a four-point advantage. 

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Chemutai mark at Ras Al Khaimah HM may be considered for WR   

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Fancy Chemutai may be granted equal status as world record holder after organizers of Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon confirmed they will apply to IAAF for ratification of her winning time.

Chemutai’s braved a spirited challenge from compatriot Mary Keitany to clock 65:42 and agonizingly missed on the world record by only two seconds.

“My victory in Ras Al Khaimah was great. Disappointed it was not a world record,” said Chemutai.

“With an ankle problem in my preparation, I have lost some important training days, but so extremely proud I made it this far. Thanks to my management and sponsor for the support.”

However, the organizers feel Chemutai’s mark deserves to be recorded as a world record as it will equal the existing official record of another Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei of 65:42 from Prague Half last year.

Though Jepkosgei has since improved on that record to 65:41 at the Valencia Half Marathon in October, but that time is yet to be ratified by IAAF as a world record. Also the 10-mile split of 49:29 by Caroline Kipkirui is an all-time best.

Now Chemutai will be keen to shake off her ankle problem and focus on winning Kenya a medal at the World Half Marathon in Valencia, Spain on March 24.

Chemutai will have to join forces with Jepkosgei, who was sixth at Ras Al Khaimah, for the task ahead.

The two will be joined by Ruth Chepngetich, who won the Istanbul Half Marathon last year with others including Pauline Kaveke and Mary Wachira.

Kenya’s Peris Jepchirchir, who is the World Half Marathon defending champion from Cardiff in 2016, will not be returning to defend his crown.

However, she joined an exclusive club of past winners from Kenya. The list includes legendary Tegla Loroupe, marathon icon Mary Keitany, Florence Kiplagat and Gladys Cherono.

Keitany on the other hand, will be hoping to emerge from the loss to Chemutai with gust and enthusiasm as she heads to London in a bid to set a new world record in women marathon on April 22.

           

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