After winning world titles on the track and country, the Kenyan steps into unknown territory on Sunday
Hellen Obiri makes her much-anticipated debut at 26.2 miles on Sunday (Nov 6) in the TCS New York City Marathon. There are unlikely to be any world records on the notoriously undulating course but the 33-year-old will hope to kick off her transition to the roads with a victory against a world-class field.
On the track she won world 5000m titles in 2017 and 2019 plus Olympic silver medals at the same distance in 2016 and 2020, whereas her strength in longer races was shown in 2019 when she won the world cross-country title in Aarhus.
But after relocating to the US to train with the On Running group under coach Dathan Ritzenhein, she is making her marathon debut this weekend.
“I have watched the race many times on TV and have seen my Kenyan colleagues compete there,” she says. “I know New York is a tough course, but I hope my experience on track, road, and cross-country will help me navigate the ups and downs.
“I also plan to get advice and tips from my coach, who competed in the race several times in the past.”
Obiri faces a strong field in New York including world championship medallists Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia and Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel.
Gebreslase ran 2:18:11 to win the world title in Eugene in July and the Ethiopian also won in Berlin last year, while Salpeter won bronze in that race and has a best of 2:17:45 from Tokyo two years ago.
Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi will look to become the first athlete to win the NYC Half, New York Mini 10km, and New York City Marathon in the same year. Adding to the quality are former New York, London and Boston marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, last year’s runner-up Viola Cheptoo and newcomer Sharon Lokedi.
The US hopes are led by Keira D’Amato, who ran an American record of 2:19:12 in Houston earlier this year before seeing Emily Sisson improve her mark in Chicago. In addition the field includes Americans Emma Bates, Aliphine Tuliamuk, Des Linden, Nell Rojas and Stephanie Bruce.
Recent withdrawals, however, include reigning New York City and Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and US runner Sara Hall.
Albert Korir defends his title in the men’s race and he will be up against Boston champion and fellow Kenyan Evans Chebet, Americas record-holder Daniel Do Nascimento, former London winner Shura Kitata of Ethiopia and last year’s runner-up Mohamed El Aaraby of Morocco. Look out too for Dutch Olympic silver medalist Abdi Nageeye, who was fifth last year.
American hopes are led by Galen Rupp. Now aged 36, Rupp is making his debut in New York but won Olympic marathon bronze in 2016 and took victory in the 2017 Chicago Marathon too.
“I am looking forward to making my debut in the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon,” Rupp said. “It will be my 12th marathon. So far, I won the Chicago and Prague marathons, won the Olympic Trials marathon twice, and took bronze in the 2016 Olympic Games marathon, but I know a win at the TCS New York City Marathon would be right up there.”
Five-time US Olympian Abdi Abdirahman will race his final marathon, while Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir will make his marathon debut. Also in the field are Scott Fauble, Ben True, Jared Ward and Leonard Korir.
Korir won last year’s race in 2:08:22 to finish one spot better and 14 seconds faster than his runner-up performance in 2019. “I’m very happy to return to New York after my victory last year, but I also feel a great responsibility to defend my title,” Korir said.
“It was surprising to me that the list of athletes who have returned to defend their title has very few names on it, but I am training very hard to join them. It is never easy, but I have the benefit of experience.”
Marcel Hug will be going for his fifth New York City Marathon win in the men’s wheelchair race as he faces Daniel Romanchuk, Aaron Pike and Britain’s Johnboy Smith.
Defending women’s wheelchair champion Madison de Rozario takes on Manuela Schär, Tatyana McFadden and Susannah Scaroni among others.
The event is broadcast live on Discovery+ from 1pm to 5.30pm for UK viewers and also a new race app developed by Tata Consultancy Services promises to show live video action from all elite and wheelchair races.
Istanbul Marathon promises fast times
Also on Sunday (Nov 6) the N Kolay Istanbul Marathon takes place with organisers hoping to see the course records and Turkish all-comers’ marks falling.
Seven men are on the start list who have personal bests of inside 2:08. These include Bahrain’s Marius Kimutai, whose PB is 2:05:47, whereas in the women’s race Kenyan Agnes Barsosio is the fastest in the field with a PB of 2:20:59.
Turkey’s premier marathon, which uniquely starts on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and then leads the runners over the July 15 Martyrs Bridge into the European part of the city, will be staged in Istanbul for the 44th time. A total of 60,000 runners are expected to take part including races at shorter distances.
Course records are held by Daniel Kibet (2:09:44) with the all-comers’ record being 2:09:27, while the women’s course record (and all-comers’ best) is owned by Ruth Chepngetich (2:18:35).
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