After conquering the London Marathon last weekend, Mary Keitany landed at the Eldoret International Airport on Friday morning to a reception replete with pomp and praise.
On hand to welcome her back home following her weekend exploits were fellow top runners, family members and journalists.
Keitany, who finished third at last November’s ING New York City Marathon, now eyes next year’s London Olympic Games marathon gold medal.
Special Easter gift
“The win (in London) at least gave me confidence that I can do better. This is simply a special Easter gift for my family and Kenya. Here, all our parents (including the in-laws) are in celebration mode. I now look up for an Olympic gold,” said Keitany.
“I am proud for a win in my second race in the 42 kilometre distance, especially in the Big Marathon.
“I had prepared well and training with my husband improved both my speed and endurance,” said Keitany.
Keitany, who is also the world 21km and 25km record holder, now stands up there among the world’s best distance runners.
“I will recover first and prepare for any of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) races to chase up points. I will know the race in due course,” said Keitany, who started running while a Standard Four Pupil in 1996 at Kanjulul Primary School in Koibatek.
Her husband, Charles Koech, a half marathon runner, was full of praise for his wife. “The win made me confident of her performance in any championship. She was actually in good shape,” said Koech.
Keitany arrived with James Kwambai, who holds a sizzling 2:04.26 personal best time in the marathon and who also ran in London.
Keitany’s son Jared Kipchumba, training mates along with Josephat Rotich and Penninah Arusei - the best man and best woman at Keitany’s and Koech’s wedding - were also at the airport to meet the champion.
Arusei, who wound up third in her marathon debut last week in Madrid, said she was happy with Keitany’s performance and asked her to maintain her rhythm.
Arusei’s husband Rotich, a three-time winner of the Salzburg Marathon in Austria, said he was proud of his family friend’s achievement.
“I am really happy for Mary Keitany. Her success is part of our success though I was not surprised with that victory. She is a strong runner. I also pay tribute to them as a couple,” said Rotich.