NAIROBI, Kenya, December 10 – Three time World Half marathon champion Lornah Kiplagat will focus on marathon running in 2009.,
Consequently, the Kenyan born Dutchwoman who also holds the world half marathon record will skip next year’s World Cross Country Championships and World Athletics Championships in Berlin.
A versatile athlete, Kiplagat has previously competed on the track, road, cross country and marathon but speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kiplagat said that she will now focus solely on road running.
“I think I won the most important race in cross country in Mombasa in 2007 and nothing can top that so I will not be in Amman for World Cross in March. Similarly I think I am done with track and thus will not be in Berlin,” said Kiplagat.
Kiplagat added that her main goal for the year will be to win a marathon either in Amsterdam or New York.
“I have had a good offer to run in Amsterdam made six months ago and New York are also showing interest but I am yet to make up my mind,” she said.
The reigning World Half marathon champion will also not defend her title in Birmingham late next year, “When you win a race for three straight years, then maybe its time to find a different challenge and that is why marathon will be my new challenge.”
Kiplagat’s coach and husband Pieter Langerhorst said they had decided that it was time to move on and focus on marathon running.
“We thought of Amman about then realised that there is nothing for her to achieve in Cross.”
“We want her to fully focus on marathon running because though she has run in several marathons, she has never fully focused on the 42 kilometre distance and this is the opportune time to do that,” said Langerhorst.
Langerhosrt outlined Kiplagat’s season saying that she will run a half marathon in Nigeria and another in Abu Dhabi early next year before getting down to prepare for a fall marathon.
“She may run across country or two but mostly, it will be just to test and improve her speed but her main focus will be a marathon in October or early November,” said Langerhorst.
He added that her main goal remains the marathon race at the London 2012 Olympics, “Our main target is to win gold in London come 2012 and that is why it is important to start preparations now.”
Lornah has already won the Los Angeles marathon twice in1997 and 1998, Amsterdam marathon in 1999 and Osaka marathon in 2002.
Kiplagat also owns four World records. In the 5000 meter road race she ran the distance in 14:47, while she lowered her own record in the 10 miles of 50.54 by two seconds to 50.50 during the 2006 Dam tot Damloop which she also won in 2002.
On 14 October 2007, Kiplagat set a new half-marathon world record of 1:06:25 at the World Road Running Championships at Udine, Italy, while defending the title she first won in 2006.
She also smashed her own 20km world record en route, running 1:02:57.