NAIROBI, Kenya, April 22- Four-time Boston winner, Catherine Ndereba, has backed Rita Jeptoo to surpass her chequered record at the world’s oldest marathon after the 33-year-old clinched her third crown on Monday in a staggering 2:18:47 route best.
Racing like poetry in motion, the defending champion held on to her crown by uncorking blistering splits from the Heartbreak Hill to the tape to become the first woman after Ndereba to win three titles there following her previous success in 2006.
The two-time world champion who stands alone as the only woman to win Boston four times paid homage to Jeptoo’s performance that took her to number 5 on the all time list.
“I’m happy for her and what she did although I just missed the race. She is capable of winning four or even five times,” Ndereba told Capital Sport on Tuesday.
The legend who won her fourth Boston title incidentally at 33 in 2005 after victories in 2000, 2001 and 2004 believes Jeptoo is getting finer as the years progress.
“Age is gold it doesn’t matter. It depends on what you want to put in and how you go about it. As you get older, it becomes easier for you to set goals and as long as you do not have disruptions, you can achieve anything,” the two-time Olympics silver medallist added.
“Experience is the best teacher and we can see that with the likes of Edna (Kiplagat, London champion, 34) and Rita. For Boston, Rita knew the course so well, she could even run with her eyes closed and that gave her the advantage over the rest of the field.
“She knew what to expect and that helps a lot in planning and training for the race. I’m not surprised by the time she ran which was very good. As long as you have trained well and on the day when the weather is good and a bit of back wind, any time is possible,” Ndereba explained.
She added: “When I see the girls doing what they are doing now, I’m pleased I was able to demonstrate to them that it is doable. It’s only a matter of believing and training and what we are seeing in the country at the moment as far as women are concerned is a result of that.”
Jeptoo became the first to run sub-2:20 at the difficult course after the pack came through halfway in 1:09:28 following the furious pace set by home favourite, Sharlene Flanagan.
At the crest of Heartbreak Hill, Jeptoo took control with a series of blistering mile splits coming down through Brookline to the finish, including an almost-unbelievable 4:47 for the 24th mile.
Alone by then, Jeptoo was chasing only Margaret Okayo’s course record of 2:20:43 from 2002, and it was almost a foregone conclusion. After covering the final 2.195km section in 6:51 – just three seconds slower than Keflezighi’s split for the same section – Jeptoo crossed the finish line in 2:18:57, taking her to fifth on the world all-time list.
“I was not expecting to run fast like today, but I’m happy,” Jeptoo told IAAF. “I was surprised because the race was like on fire! I managed to think of all my training. Last year you saw nobody pushing because they’re looking for me, and everybody follows me. But today I pushed all day.”
“I’ve never started like that. My body was not responsive at the beginning. Maybe after 25km I felt like, ‘I’m OK,’ and I started from there.”
Jeptoo and Keflezighi each won $150,000 for their victories; Jeptoo will add an additional $25,000 for the course record.
Flanagan trailed in seventh in 2:22:02, the fastest-ever US time on the Boston course, and told reporters she would keep coming back until she won.
-Additional reporting iaaf.org