Hellen Obiri could follow the trend of successful women marathon debutants in New York

November 05, 2022

From the Berlin to the London to the Amsterdam marathon, the trend has been of women track stars moving up to the marathon and doing exceptionally well as debutants.

The Berlin Marathon was won by Tigist Asefa - a former 800m specialist who made her debut earlier in the year-  in an amazing time of 2:15:37. The London Marathon was won by Yalemzerf Yehualaw, the current world record holder of the 10K, this was her second marathon ever after she had recorded the fastest ever women’s debut of 2:17:23 earlier in the year. 

The Amsterdam Marathon saw three debutants – two of them having broken world records on the track- sweep the podium in the women’s race. Almaz  Ayana ran the fastest debut in history to win the race in 2:17:20, while Genzebe Dibaba, who holds the world record for the 1500m, finished second also in an impressive 2:18:05  ahead of  Tsehay  Gemechu in 2:18:59.

If there is one runner drawing some confidence out of this ahead of the New York City Marathon, it should be Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, who is also looking forward to a successful debut on Sunday 6th.

The two times world outdoor champion in the women’s 5000m, world 3000m indoor champion and world senior cross country champion has been preparing well ad has already run three half marathons earlier this year, all in impressive times. Earlier in the year, she did the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon in February, finishing second in 1:04:22 and won the N Kolay Istanbul half marathon in March after running 1:04:48. She has also had some impressive 10K performances this year that includes a second-place finish at the Bengaluru 10K in 30:44 and a win at the Great Manchester run in 30:15.

However, what should arguably be Obiri’s outstanding performance this year, so far is the close finish between her and Letesenbet Gidey at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon. Just before the finish line, she had almost overtaken Gidey, only for her neck to hit the elbow of the world record holder of the half marathon distance -who will also be making her marathon debut next month- and settled for the silver medal in 30:10.02 against Gidey’s 30:09.94.

“I know New York is a tough course, but I hope my experience on track, road and cross country will help me navigate the ups and downs,” Obiri said during the press conference.

Not only will the course be tough for Obiri, but the elite field as well has got four women who have run under 2:20 and a total of eleven under 2:25 for the marathon distance.

Lonah Salpeter of Israel is the fastest on the start list with a time of 2:17:45, a time she ran to win the Tokyo Marathon in 2020. This year, she was second at the Nagoyawomen’s marathon in March where she ran 2:18:45 and won a bronze medal at the world championships in Eugene.

The favourite for the home crowd will be Keira D’Amato, who won the Houston marathon earlier this year in a new PB of 2:19:12.

Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase, the reigning world marathon champion with a personal best time of 2:18:11, will be another big contender. World Athletics currently ranks the 27-year-old as the world’s number one.

Ednah Kiplagat has been a constant figure at the world marathon majors for the last 12 years. It will be interesting to see whether the 42-year-old experienced marathoner could surprise the younger generation of runners.

Kenya’s Viola Cheptoo who finished second behind Peres Jepchirchir last year, USA’s Des Linden, Mao Uesugi of Japan, Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia and Caroline Rotich of Kenya will be among other contenders to watch out for as well.

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