Kenya will be going for a fourth straight sweep of the men’s and women’s professional runner titles at the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6, as Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany will try for their second and third crowns, respectively, in a 68-strong pro field that includes 19 Olympians.
In a star-studded women’s field, Keitany could lock up a rare feat. With a victory this year, she would become the first female able-bodied runner to win three consecutive New York City Marathon titles since Grete Waitz claimed five straight from 1982 to 1986.
“I’ve been training well—so well that I’m ready to come to New York and defend my title,” Keitany said.
The 34-year-old, a former world record holder in the half-marathon and current world record holder in the 25K, is coming to New York fresh this year after having not competed at the Rio 2016 Olympics. She has already made two stops in the U.S., breaking the Bix 7-mile record in July in Iowa as well as the Beach to Beacon 10K record in August in Maine.
She is the second-fastest woman in history behind Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, having run a blistering 2:18:37 at the 2012 London Marathon, but she insists the TCS New York City Marathon is her favorite.
“I love the course. All the ups and downs are more fun than training on the flat trails in Kenya,” Keitany said.
Biwott won last year’s TCS New York City Marathon by closing the final 10 kilometers in a commanding 28:35, and then clocked a personal best of 2:03:51 at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. But he’ll be trying to bounce back in New York after failing to finish the Rio 2016 Olympic Marathon in August. Stomach issues forced him to drop out after being part of the lead pack.
“It was very important to me to come back to New York City because it was my first major marathon win,” Biwott said. “I’m coming to New York to bring back my glory. In the Rio Olympics, I was in good shape heading there, but had to drop out of the race. So, I immediately had to look forward to my next big race.”
With six men in the professional runner field having clocked under 2:10:00 in their careers, Biwott’s competition will be stiff; he’s expected to be challenged by fellow countryman Lucas Rotich, Ethiopia’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Lelisa Desisa, and the USA’s Dathan Ritzenhein.
Biwott will race the five-borough course for the third time, and his half-marathon best of 58:56 currently ranks him as the 13th-fastest man in history at that distance.
He’s been racing since 2006, but off the roads still likes to talk about his dairy farm back in Kenya.
“I’m a professional athlete now, so I’m able to get someone to take care of my 10 cows for me when I’m not there,” Biwott joked.
If all goes to plan for Biwott in New York City, perhaps he’ll return to Kenya with a $100,000 check to expand his farm.
By Stuart Lieberman
GET YOUR STORIES ON. Read more inspiring stories from runners chronicling their journeys to the TCS New York City Marathon starting line.
TUNE IN. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.