NAIROBI, April 7- Florence Kiplagat is praying its third time lucky in London where she has set sights on running 2:19 on April 26 in an attempt to win the coveted English capital’s World Marathon Majors race for the first time.
Having broken her own world half marathon record in defending her title at the Asics Half in Barcelona where she ran 1:05:09 in February, the 28 year-old believes she has the speed to counter her experienced compatriots in the deep London field.
Last year the mother of two daughters; Aisha Jelagat and Faith Jerono was beaten to runner-up at both London (2:20:24) and Chicago (2:25:57) by namesake and compatriot, Edna Kiplagat and Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba as she faded towards the finish.
“I have a mental or psychological problem when it comes to the full marathon. One has to run 42km, it is so tiresome. I always lose hope towards the finish but this time, I will try my best,” the two-time Berlin (2011 and 13) titleholder and Kenya Police runner who was sixth at the 2013 London race on her debut in 2:27:05 admitted.
She is part of an imposing Kenyan quintet in London in a race that could also decide the bulk of the country’s team for summer’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Past winners, Edna (2014), New York champion Mary Keitany (2011 and 12) and Priscah Jeptoo (2013) as well as Jemimah Sumgong; a second finisher at New York (2014) and Boston (2012) are also in the loaded line-up.
“God did miracles in London last year and I was second. This year I have told God I tasted sweet food and this time I want real food,” she added acknowledging inexperience over the ultimate distance compared to her illustrious compatriots could be the only stumbling block to her ambitions.
“I fear running the marathon since I’m still young. But I have a point to prove,” the athlete who won Commonwealth Games silver in 10,000m last year in Glasgow underscored.
Last year, she first broke the world half marathon record when she blew away Keitany’s 1:05:50 by a whooping 38 seconds in Barcelona before shedding three more seconds from her own standard in February at the same course.
The double Berlin Marathon winner has proven her versatility having collected the 2009 World Cross senior women’s 8km title in Amman, Jordan and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China the following year in her impressive trove of honours.
“I’m naturally talented, so I don’t need too much training for me to win in a race. Fast running is part of me that is why I don’t normally strain while running,” she claimed.
She was the female ‘escort’ in 2011 and 2013 when compatriots Patrick Makau (2:03:38) and Wilson Kipsang (2:03:24) broke the men’s world record in Berlin when she won the corresponding races.
Florence ran her 2:19:44 career best in the marathon when winning the 2011 Berlin race as she targets to run in that region to stand a chance of glory on April 26.
-By Emmanuel Sabuni