Ruth Chepngetich confident of Dubai Marathon debut success after Istanbul heroics
Kenyan runner, who is used to training on a hilly terrain, hopes to use the emirate's flat course to her advantage
Ruth Chepngetich arrived in the UAE for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon high on confidence after winning the Istanbul Marathon two months ago.
Chepngetich defended her Turkish capital title in November by bettering the course record she set the previous year. Having clocked two hours, 19 minutes and 35 seconds in the 2018 race, the Kenyan distance runner believes she can replicate that form on Friday even though it will be her first time competing in Dubai.
“I have only heard of the Dubai Marathon but it’s my first time here," Chepngetich said at the launch ceremony on Wednesday. "I am looking forward to a fast timing and good result."
The 24-year-old has reason to be pleased with her form. Aside from winning in Istanbul, she finished second behind compatriot Betsy Saina at the Paris Marathon in April. "Obviously I am here to win - like everybody else in the race,” she said.
What makes Chepngetich's success even more remarkable is that she has never trained under a regular coach, and does not intend doing so anytime in the future. Which begs the question: who mentored her?
"I didn’t have a coach. It was basically my friends from whom I learnt a lot on the art of running," she said. "I liked running, running and running. It came naturally to me. I trained because I loved running."
And a lot of running she did in her formative years - first in road races while at school to the big competitions in Kenya by 2014.
Chepngetich trains in Ngong, a town around 25 kilometres south-west of capital Nairobi, where the terrain is hilly. It is one of the reasons why she fancies her chance on Dubai's flat course.
“My plan would be to stay with the leading group and they will guide me through the race," she said, adding that while she is familiar with some of her fellow competitors, she cannot guarantee a win.
Chepngetich's challengers include former Dubai winner Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia and Sharon Cherop, bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships, also a Kenyan.
“You never know what’s around the corner in every race I run," Chepngetich said. "Let’s see what happens at the end, but hopefully a good result.”
More on Dubai Marathon 2019:
The marathon has drawn some of the best long-distance runners in the men's elite races, too.
Running this year are Guye Adola, the Ethiopian who clocked the fastest ever marathon debut time in Berlin in 2017 (2:03:46); compatriot and the Seoul Marathon winner Asefa Mengstu, 2015 Dubai winner Lemi Berhanu, and Tadesse Abraham of Switzerland, who is also making his Dubai debut.
The Dubai Marathon, which starts at 6am on Friday, is the region’s only IAAF Gold Label Marathon and is celebrating its 20th staging this weekend.
Thousands of runners are also expected to partake in the 10-kilometre road race as well as the 4km fun run.
Updated: January 24, 2019 09:45 AM