Brigid Kosgei races to course record in Abu Dhabi Marathon

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei in action during the women's elite race.[FILE]

Double London Marathon winner Brigid Kosgei announced a major return to action as she ended 2023 in style, with victory at the Abu Dhabi Marathon on Saturday.

The 29-year-old cruised to a stunning course record in the race.

The former world record holder had placed a disappointing fourth at the New York City Marathon and appeared like she had not fully recovered from nagging injuries.

On Saturday morning, just a month and 11 days after the New York City Marathon showdown, Kosgei pulled huge surprise, easily storming to victory at the 2023 Abu Dhabi 42km contest.

Kosgei clocked 2:19:15, eight minutes faster than the 2:27:45 she recorded in New York City last month.

She chalked up her major victory at the 2022 Tokyo Marathon, where she ran the race's 2:16:02 course record.

Ethiopians athletes Hawa Feysa and Dessi Ethlemahu settled for second and third places in 2:24:03 and 2:25:36 respectively.

Three-time Olympic champion (on the track) Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, who was touted as Kosgei’s biggest challenger, could not keep up with the speed.

Dibaba was returning from a maternity break.

Hamstring and knee problems had disrupted Kosgei’s 2022-2023 season, forcing the two-time Chicago Marathon champion to pull out of this year’s London Marathon.

She had set her sights on a third win in London, but she had not recovered well enough to line up in the UK capital.

Hopes were high as New York City Marathon held on November 5 beckoned, but Kosgei narrowly missed the podium in the race won by Hellen Obiri, the reigning Boston Marathon champion.

Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia finished second while defending champion Sharon Lokedi came in third.

Yesterday, in a spectacular fashion, Kosgei established a comfortable lead from the 30km as she made her intentions to win the fifth Abu Dhabi Marathon, clear.

“I am so happy to win in Abu Dhabi because I wanted to prove something after finishing fourth in New York City, Kosgei told international media after the win.

The win meant that Kosgei brought home the $50,000 (Sh7.6 million) top prize and an additional $30,000 (Sh4.6 million) as bonus for setting the course record.

She said she would fly the country’s flag at the 2024 Paris Olympics when duty calls. “If selected, I promise to do duty. If I will not be lucky, I focus on other races.”

Kosgei said she was impressed by the huge crowd of athletics fans who lined up along the streets of the United Arab Emirates capital to cheer her.

“I want to come back to Abu Dhabi next year to defend my title because I have done it in course record today (Saturday). The crowd was encouraging and motivated me to win.

“It was windy and humid. Above all, I am even happier because I was returning from an injury. I look forward to better performances next year,” she said.

In the men’s race, former African Cross Country champion Leonard Barsoton claimed the second place behind Eritrean Amare Hailemichael Samson – the surprise winner.

Other Kenyan men; Gideon Chepkong’a and Isaac Timoi finished fourth and fifth respectively.

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