Wonder girl Obiri to make her marathon debut at the Big Apple

Kenya's Hellen Obiri celebrates after winning silver in women's 5000m final yesterday. [Reuters]

After winning silver medal in the 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships -- clocking a personal best of 30 minutes and 10 seconds, Hellen Obiri is set to make her full marathon debut at New York City on November 6, the athlete has confirmed.

The two-time world 5,000m champion ran 1:04:48 Istanbul Half Marathon in March ahead of Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu by more than a minute and her debut in New York will be the first indicator of how Obiri’s track-running pedigree translates over the full marathon.

“I have studied the New York course; I can say it’s a tough course. I can’t predict how it will go, I can’t say I’m going to target this time or this time -- it’s my debut, I’m just happy for an opportunity to race my first full marathon in New York,” Obiri told CNN.

“For me, I want to train well because it’s my debut, and for sure, I’m looking forward to running a good race and my own race with no pressure and to finish well,” Obiri adds.
At the start of this year, the 32-year-old joined On Athletics Club (OAC), an elite team based in Boulder and led by former distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein. She is also relocating to Colorado, America with her family later this year.

“I have always dreamed of living in the U.S, I’m glad the dream will be actualised soon. My family is excited about the relocation. Many Kenyans live and train in Colorado such as Betsy

Saina who is my friend and she among others will make me settle easily. My daughter Tania will definitely get the best education there,” said Obiri who started as a 200m and 400m sprinter before being persuaded by Noah Ngeny, the 2000 Olympic 1,500m champion to try 1,500m. 

Obiri will face up against the World Championships medallists Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia, Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel and Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir in the women’s race.  Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi will also be in the mix.

Three other Kenyans will also be strong contenders for podium places, including the 2010 New York City, 2014 London and 2017 Boston Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, last year’s runner-up Viola Cheptoo, and newcomer Sharon Lokedi.

Others include the contingent of American women that includes Sara Hall, Emma Bates, Aliphine Tuliamuk, Des Linden, Nell Rojas, and Stephanie Bruce.