Saina to make marathon debut in New York City

Saturday September 2 2017

US-based athlete Betsy Saina during a past training session. She is in Kenya’s team for the World Indoor Championships starting March 17, 2016 in the USA. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

US-based athlete Betsy Saina during a past training session. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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United States-based Kenya’s Betsy Saina is ready to plunge into the enchanted waters of marathon when she lines up at the New York City Marathon on November 5.

Saina, who has been training in Kenya for the last two months under coaches Patrick Sang and Richard Metto, said she is excited about the challenge.

It’s left to be seen whether the entry of Saina could ruin the party for champion Mary Keitany, who is seeking her fourth consecutive victory in New York City and two-time World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, who is out to reclaim title she won last in 2010.

“It’s exciting training in Kenya and for sure nothing is easy! Everything needs some hard training but I’m having a good transition from track,” said Saina.

Saina, 29, said her coaches have provided good guidance and that she is looking forward to compete against her good friends Edna and Keitany, who have given her some valuable advice. However, Saina said she will need to train hard since guidance from the best won’t make life easier in marathon.

“It’s so helpful to have some direction in training and know what to expect in training,” said Saina who expects a tough first marathon.

“I will not be in New York to ruin anyone’s party but my goal is to put myself in the mix and be competitive. Marathon is a different animal so I will be really careful but for now,” she said.

“I will train hard and hope to stay healthy and have a great race. We still have two months to put everything together.”

Saina, who finished fifth in 10,000 metres at the Rio 2016 Olympics after winning the New York City Millrose Games 5,000 metres earlier that year, will definitely add a new flavour to the rich women’s field.

Keitany, 35, staged a dominant performance last year in which she surged ahead at 23 kilometres to finish the course on a solo run in 2:24:26.

The two-time winner of the World Marathon Majors returns to New York five months after setting a new women’s World marathon record with victory in London in 2:17:01, her third career victory on the course.

Kiplagat, the 2011 and 2013 World champion who settled for silver at the World Championships three weeks ago, won in  New York in 2010 before reigning supreme in London (2014) and Boston (2017).

In the men’s race, Geoffrey Kamworor will take the battle to defending champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea. Kamworor, 24, returns to New York City Marathon after finishing second in 2015.