Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Vivian Kiplagat targets title and personal best on Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon debut

Kenyan runner has won two of her three races this season and is aiming to end her year on a high

Vivian Kiplagat will make her race debut at the Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon on Friday. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Vivian Kiplagat will make her race debut at the Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon on Friday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Vivian Kiplagat is confident she can set a new personal best time and win the Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon as the Kenyan prepares to make her race debut in the capital on Friday.

Kiplagat, 28, enters the last of her four races in 2019 after a career-best season during which she set a PB of 2:22:25 on April 7 to win the Milan Marathon before two weeks later finishing runner-up at the Eldoret Marathon.

The Kenyan was then victorious in her most recent race, the Mexico City Marathon on August 25 where she set a new race record, and is aiming to maintain her fine form when she competes for the $100,000 (Dh367,000) first-place prize this weekend.

“My goal is to run this marathon in under 2:20,” she said when asked about her ambitions for the Abu Dhabi Marathon, which offers a flat and fast course.

“Of course I want to win. My preparations have been good. My form is good. My confidence is high. I’m familiar with the challengers in this race, and I’m hopeful.”

Kiplagat revealed that she has been preparing for this race for the past three months, ever since she confirmed her place. Four marathons in one season could leave an athlete at the risk of fatigue, but Kiplagat insisted that she has more than enough left in the tank to complete her year on a high.

“I know my abilities,” she said. “I have had a good year so far. I feel I’m in that time of my career where I can improve my performance.”

Like many athletes, Kiplagat’s main objective is to qualify for next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, and she believes a strong result in Abu Dhabi will be an important milestone before choosing her Olympic qualifying race.

“To run in the Olympics is the dream of every athlete,” she said. “But it’s not easy in Kenya. I feel this is my best chance but for now, I am only focused on Abu Dhabi.

“The decision to run in an Olympic qualifier will be made how I come out of this race. If everything goes well I may be running in one of the major marathons to qualify for the Olympics.”

Kiplagat has trained with Brigid Kosgei, who in October broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old marathon world record when she ran 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon, taking one minute and 19 seconds off the Briton’s time.

“Brigid was one of the women runners in our group of 20 when I first joined a training team four years ago,” said Kiplagat, who is a mother of two to a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old boy.

“I was born in a town where distance running was a common sight on the roads where I grew up. I joined a team of runners and developed to a decent level. I thought I had the potential to start a full time career five years ago.

“Then, later I joined a team trained by a former marathon runner. We had about 20 in the group including four or five women including Brigid. That’s how my journey began.

“I have a lot of aspirations. Olympics is one of them. I also want to win a few big city marathons. Abu Dhabi is one of them.”

Updated: December 5, 2019 03:01 PM

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