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F Kiplagat eyes 2:18 blast in Chicago

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FLORENCE-POLICENAIROBI, October 3- World Half Marathon record holder, Florence Kiplagat is ready to occupy the throne on the flat Chicago Marathon course on October 12 four years after she pulled out of her United States debut injured.

Kiplagat, 27, is among a tasty women elite field that is preparing to give the IAAF Gold Label and World Marathon Majors showpiece a race to remember.

Speaking in Eldoret after an intense morning training session, Kiplagat said she is ready for the challenge.

“I am ready. The training has gone on well. I have tested myself in different races and circumstances and have come out good. But running the real marathon is different,” she said.

Her focus in Chicago will however, not be on beating Paula Radcliff’s world record of 2:15:25, but to try and lower her personal best of 2:19:44, which she set in 2011 in winning the Berlin Marathon.

At the time it made her the ninth fastest woman in history and third fastest Kenyan of all-time. “I want to run a fast race. The world record is way far beyond me for now. But it is something that I plan to attack very soon,” said Kiplagat.

She believes it will be possible for her to clear the 42km distance in Chicago in just two hours and 18 minutes. “I want to see how fast I can go. Depending on the weather, running in Chicago will be fun.”

In 2010, Kiplagat made her debut on the American soil and ran 1:11:42 at halfway and 1:42:59 at 30km, but she did not finish the Boston Marathon.

She then competed at London in 2012 and ran a little more than a minute off her personal best in fourth place. She returned to Berlin in 2013 and won there again in 2:21:13 and was second at London in 2014.

Kiplagat made headlines in February at Barcelona when she ran an IAAF Half-Marathon World Record of 1:05:12.

“Past records are useless to me now. They only add pressure on you. I will focus on my race. I know we have Rita Jeptoo and she will be hard to beat, especially now that she is defending the title she won last year,” said Kiplagat.

“But I also have my stature to maintain and winning is part of the programme I have for the race.” The Chicago Marathon will feature four women with the potential to break the tape under 2:20.

Champion Jeptoo (2:18:57) will face Kiplagat (2:19:44), Jemima Sumgong (2:20:48) all Kenyan and newcomer, Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba (2:22:30).

“I was supposed to compete in the Chicago marathon two years ago but was out due to injury but I am happy now to be part of the competition for my fans and supporters. It is no retreat and no surrender for me; it’s a do or die game, and I will give all my best to succeed and make the 12th of October a great day,” said Kiplagat.

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