NAIROBI, Kenya, February 6- The planned debut of multiple Olympics champion and Ethiopia’s track queen, Tirunesh Dibaba, in the full marathon on April 13 in London has justifiably increased pulse rates among distance running enthusiasts worldwide.
However, two-time world champion over the distance and last-year’s runner-up in London, Edna Kiplagat, is not fazed by the threat posed by the ‘baby faced assassin’ as she bids to go one better and occupy the middle step of the podium.
“It’s good we are having Tirunesh as a debutant but it will not be easy for her. Marathon is four times what she has been running, 10,000m. She has to make a lot of sacrifice to make sure she is going to handle the marathon.
“For me, I have no worry, I know the course of London very well and going there for the fourth time, the course is still very fresh in my mind,” Kiplagat, who ran her year best 2:21:32 in London before successfully defending her title in Moscow (2:25:44) in the summer spoke of Tirunesh’s anticipated debut.
Having finished twice in succession and third on her London bow in 2011, Kiplagat is out to catch the bouquet when she lines up against one of the most forceful women’s field ever assembled.
“I’m happy to be among the elite athletes invited to run. It’s a great field they selected this year and I’m happy to go there and compete with them.
“This year, I’m looking forward to go and win since I’ve tried several times and it has not been,” she stressed.
The 2010 New York champion, 34, admitted running out of steam in the latter stages of the race in her last three appearances and she is preparing to work on that to ensure she is fourth-time lucky.
“We are going to sit down with my coach and plan a very good programme so that I do not get affected in the last miles.
“Always, towards the last kilometres, my body does not respond well, I feel a bit tired, so, I’m going to work on it to ensure I tackle the last kilometres very well,” she underscored her intent in what potentially could be her London swansong.
To realise her aim in light of the imposing field gathered, Kiplagat realises she might be required to go out faster than her 2:19:50 career best achieved in 2012 when she trailed compatriot and Kenyan record holder, Mary Keitany, to the tape.
“London is one of the courses that need a lot of preparation to be in good shape and speed so that you can make a move for any position. It also needs good pace makers.
“Last year, we had a little problem with pace makers since they were far from us and so, we had to make some sacrifices to make good moves from start to finish. I’m going to prepare very well for the speed,” she added.
On her historic title defence in Russia that made her the first to retain and second Kenyan female after Catherine Ndereba (2003/2007) to be crowned two-time world champion, Kiplagat revealed it was crafted in difficulty.
“I can remember it was not easy because of the weather. It was very tough but I was well prepared. I did a lot of good training and considered the type of training to suit the weather in Moscow.
“I was very happy to defend and prepared from the beginning when I got a chance to represent the country. I had to sturdy the course and opponents and I was prepared mentally and physically.”
The Daegu and Moscow titleholder is urging Athletics Kenya (AK) to select the national squads early to give the runners enough time to prepare.
“It is very tough and if given a short time, you will not be ready. AK needs to give us a period of at least four months to prepare. In case someone drops, they can get another who will have time,” she advised.
“My mind is now on London but I might try to go to the Commonwealth Games. I will see where to go after London,” the athlete coached by spouse Gilbert Koech, a 2:14:39 career best marathoner, said.
Defending champion Priscah Jeptoo (2:20:14), Olympics champion, Tiki Gelana (ETH, 2:18:58) and Berlin winner, Florence Kiplagat (2:19:44) rank as favourites alongside Kiplagat.
Other elite bets include; Aberu Kebede (ETH, 2:20:30) the Tokyo winner and Feysa Tadesse (ETH, 2:21:06) who took the honours in Paris besides Europe’s hope, Ukrainian (2:23:58) the Osaka crownholder.