Kiplagat penned for Big Apple

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New York, USA, April 29- Defending champion, Edna Kiplagat will return for another title tilt for the women's New York Marathon title with past winners American Meb Keflezighi and Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam also drafted for the November 6 event.

Kiplagat, 31, continued success after her maiden World Marathon Majors race victory by taking second place at the New York City Half in March in a time of 1:09:00 and finishing third at the Virgin London Marathon running a career best of 2:20:46.

She is also in line for a call-up to the national team for Daegu World Championships as Kenya seeks to produce another marathon winner at the biennial event since Catherine Nderaba’s second victory at the 2007 edition in Osaka.

"For now, competing for Kenya in Daegu and defending my New York title are my priorities for the season. I’m hoping to be considered for selection by our federation but if that does not happen, I will concentrate on defending my New York title," Kiplagat said on phone upon being informed of the New York Marathon organisers’ Thursday announcement. 

Upon her arrival from London, Kiplagat who saw Mary Keitany whom she topped at the Big Apple turn tables expressed, "Mary is faster on flat courses but the New York is hilly and more challenging. I will go to work on my speed so that the next time, I can match her pace but in a course like New York, I think I have a better chance."

Also lined-up in the women’s field was American Jen Rhines, 36, who is coming off a five-year Marathon hiatus after finishing fourth in the Rome Marathon in March 2006.

She competed in the 2004 Olympic Marathon, but has recently focused on shorter distances, including the 5000 meters, which she ran in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Rhines has already won two national championships this year, claiming the half-marathon crown in January and the 15K title last month.

In the men’s race, Keflezighi, who became the first American to win this IAAF Gold Label Road Race since Alberto Salazar in 1982 will face off against his successor Gebremariam.

Keflezighi, 35, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, is a New York favorite who will be running the race for the seventh time and has showed remarkable consistency, with five top-10 finishes including his historic triumph in 2009 and last year’s sixth-place finish as the top American.

“Marathons are always challenging, but I’m challenging myself further with my goal to run both the ING New York City Marathon 2011 and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials,” Keflezighi told organisers.

“This timing and challenge is very similar to 2004, when I won the silver medal at the Olympic Games and was the runner-up in the ING New York City Marathon 70 days later. This experience gives me, Coach Bob Larsen, and the rest of my team the confidence to pursue the goal of winning the ING New York City Marathon again, and making a third U.S. Olympic team.”
 
Since winning at the Big Apple in 2:08:14, Gebremariam has finished second at the NYC Half in March in a time of 1:00:25 and third at the Boston Marathon last week in a time of 2:04:53.

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