NAIROBI, Kenya, January 22- Joyce Chepkirui of Kenya faces the ultimate test when she debuts at the prestigious Boston Marathon on April 20 as she continues the charge to cement her reputation as a rising female distance running star.
Despite facing the prospect of taking on the toughest race at the grand stage that is Boston, the oldest marathon in America and part of the World Marathon Majors Series elite global circuit, the 26 year-old Kenyan is relishing the challenge.
Last summer, she stunned two-time Berlin marathon champion and world half marathon record holder, Florence Kiplagat, by the thickness of a vest on the line to lift the women 10,000m Commonwealth title (32:09.5), in a flying breathtaking finish that left both athletes prostrate on the Glasgow track.
She travelled to Marrakech, Morocco where she added the African 25-lap title (32:45.27) to her Commonwealth crown before settling for silver over 5,000m at the IAAF Continental Cup in the same resort city to cap a memorable campaign in a lifetime best performance over 12 and a half laps of 15:58.31.
Coupled with her 66:19 burst at the Prague Half Marathon where she won last April that is the fifth fastest of all time over that distance, Chepkirui believes her time to step up to the classic distance is opportune as she targets a roaring 2015 season.
“Last season was successful one for me, with Commonwealth and African 10,000m titles and fifth fastest half marathon of all time. During 2014, I learned I am a marathon runner at heart and I am very happy to compete in Boston,” Chepkirui told Xinhua in Nairobi on Thursday.
“Boston Marathon is about hard work and strong racing with no pacemakers, so I know that the race will suit me, as I can lead, follow, climb and utilize downhill sections. I want to win, it is a big task and I will be ready on April 20,” she added.
Her International Athletics Consultancy (IAC) management confirmed she had been included in the elite list for the Boston race won last year by Rita Jeptoo, her disgraced star compatriot who faces a lengthy ban for testing positive for blood booster EPO.
Jeptoo’s ultimate fate will be known within three months as a review of her case continues following a hearing at Athletics Kenya Nairobi headquarters a fortnight ago.