Keitany, Kamworor set for New York 42km run

By JONATHAN KOMEN AND AGENCIES: Thursday, August 8th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Mary Keitany of Kenya crosses the finish line first in the women's division of the New York City Marathon in New York, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]

Kenya's Mary Keitany and Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa will return to the TCS New York City Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on November 3.

Keitany will go for her fifth career title in New York and Desisa will be gunning for a second.

Last year, Keitany became the second woman to win in New York in the open division four times, recording the second-fastest time in event history in 2:22:48. It was her fourth win in five years to become the only woman other than Grete Waitz to win the race four times.

Keitany is the women-only marathon world record-holder (2:17:01) and a two-time winner of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, having taken the series titles in 2012 and 2016.

Keitany will battle 2019 Boston Marathon champion Worknesh Degefa, 2019 Tokyo Marathon champion Ruti Aga, 2019 NYC Half champion Joyceline Jepkosgei, and 2018 Boston Marathon champion and two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden.

Joining them at the starting line will also be a strong group of US 2020 Olympic team contenders including Allie Kieffer, Sara Hall, and Kellyn Taylor.

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All three men involved in last year’s dramatic finish — Desisa, runner-up Shura Kitata, and third-placer Geoffrey Kamworor — are back in 2019, as is fourth-placer Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia, an Olympic bronze medalist in 2016 (10km) and World Championship silver medalist in 2017 (marathon). Jared Ward, who ran 2:09 to finish eighth in Boston in April and was the top American in NYC last fall (sixth), is the top domestic entrant.

Desisa won his first New York title last year after finishing on the podium three times previously. He held off fellow Ethiopian Shura Kitata by two seconds to finish in 2:05:59, the second-fastest time in event history. Desisa also has two Boston Marathon titles to his name, having won in 2013 and 2015.

Neither field is deep, but there is some star power at the top, particularly in the women’s race, which features three reigning World Marathon Majors champions. Keitany produced one of the finest runs in NYC history to win last year’s race by 3:14 after an astonishing 66:58 second half.

She will be joined by Degefa with a personal best of 2:17:41 and fourth all-time, who built up a big early lead to win Boston in April, and another Ethiopian, Ruti Aga (2:18:34) and 10 all-time), who won Tokyo in February. Linden, Kellyn Taylor (2:24:29) and Sara Hall (2:26:20) lead the US contenders.                    

The men’s field only has three sub-2:06 and sub-2:08 athletes. But there have have been 15 Abbott World Marathon Majors (not counting Worlds) held since the start of 2017 and the average number of sub-2:08 guys in each field has been nine. The lowest number of sub-2:08 guys in any of those fields has been six and yet New York only has four.

Since Tokyo was added to the Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2013, 42 of the 43 majors (not counting Worlds and Olympics) have been won by someone with an Olympic medal or a personal best under 2:08 (Yuki Kawauchi won Boston in 2018 with a 2:08:14 PB and without a medal), so by that count there are only four potential winners in NY this year.

NY not attracting the fastest or deepest fields is nothing new. Of all the majors, New York has had the lowest number of sub-2:06 and sub-2:08 guys in its field every single year since we started keeping track in 2017. 

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