Edna Kiplagat said yesterday that she’s approaching her training for the Olympic Marathon this summer the same way she approached her training for the IAAF World Championships Marathon last summer.
Which makes sense, considering she won.
Kiplagat, winner of the ING New York City Marathon in 2010, is in town to compete in tomorrow’s NYRR New York Mini 10K. The 32-year-old-Kenyan, who began her Olympic marathon training four weeks ago, says she plans to use the race as speed work. It will be her last race before the London Games.
Yesterday, Kiplagat called it an honor to be among the medal favorites, saying, “It is going to be something like history.”
Asked if becoming World Champion had changed her life, Kiplagat said softly, “I got some honor from my society.” When she returned to Eldoret, fans lined the roadway to cheer her caravan as it made its way from the airport into the city, and the mayor held a reception in her honor. “It was something that I have been dreaming for,” she said, but added with a little laugh that if she wins an Olympic medal, “I’m hoping for something bigger.”
In keeping with the celebration of women’s running that is the Mini, Kiplagat has become the primary runner in her family. Her husband, Gilbert Koech, who was himself a 2:14 marathoner, now devotes himself to his wife’s flourishing career, coaching her and helping care for their two young children.
“Three years ago when he saw he was not going to the top, he had to surrender his career so that I could be more successful. We planned for what we wanted in our lives,” she said. “He took my responsibilities as a mother and our responsibilities at home, and I also had to take up his responsibility of running.”
Kate Reed’s Long Road to NYC
The NYRR New York Mini 10K on Saturday will be the first serious race for Kate Reed since 2009.
A 2008 Olympian at 10,000 meters for Great Britain, the 29-year-old Reed underwent foot surgery for bone spurs in February 2010. Her recovery became anything but routine when she contracted a pseudomonas, a bacterial infection.
“You’d honestly never believe it,” she said in a telephone interview earlier this week from Albuquerque, N.M., where she is training. “If I could tell you everything, it would sound like a soap opera.”
After several surgeries failed to clear up the infection, she said, doctors told her parents that they might have to amputate the foot. The surgeons told her that, regardless, she would never run again.
“It’s probably the best thing they could have said to me,” she said, because it made her determined to prove them wrong.
“I love it,” she said of running. “I absolutely love it. I was so lost without it.”
After one surgery, Reed said, she had to be resuscitated in the recovery room. A central line was implanted into her chest so that she could intravenously inject herself three times a day with antibiotics. After five surgeries and three nerve blocks aimed at easing an acute burning sensation caused by reflex sympathetic dystrophy, possibly a side effect of the surgeries, Reed was finally able to jog a few hundred meters by early 2011. She still has pain, but calls it “manageable.”
That’s not even the end of the story. Six weeks ago, Reed flew to Albuquerque for the graduation of her sister Emma, who ran for the University of New Mexico. While she was visiting, Emma—who had been experiencing episodes of a rapid heartbeat—suddenly required surgery for cardiac arrhythmia. Reluctant to leave her sister’s side, Kate postponed her return to Great Britain and her return to racing there. That’s when she called NYRR to see if they might have room for her in the Mini.
Emma has recovered well enough to accompany Kate to New York.
How she performs in the Mini, Reed said, will give her an idea of what comes next, including the possibility of attempting to make her second Olympic team at her country’s upcoming Olympic Trials. But this time around, making the Olympic team is perhaps of somewhat less importance.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see her working hard and doing sessions,” said Emma. “Her character and personality are all back again. It’s brilliant.”
Withdrawing from the race are Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia and Jessica Augusto of Portugal, both with slight injuries, and Catherine Ndereba, with visa issues … Seven women in tomorrow’s field will run the marathon in the Olympics on August 5: Kiplagat, Desiree Davila (USA), Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi), Claire Hallissey (Great Britain), Hilda Kibet (Netherlands), Irvette van Blerk (South Africa), and Lidia Simon (Romania). Simon, 38, will be competing in her fifth Olympic marathon, becoming the only woman to do so … Hallissey, 29, will get the rare chance to run in an Olympic marathon before a home crowd when she races in London. “I’ve got my timing just about spot on” in making the right team, she said. “The crowd for the London Marathon in April was fantastic, and it’s all going to be multiplied in August.” … Spending a birthday in Paris might be a dream come true for a lot of women, but for Davila it’s just a rest stop on the way to the real dream. Davila and coach Kevin Hanson will be in Paris on July 26, the day she turns 29, to acclimate to the time difference overseas in a quiet atmosphere for a few days before going through the hubbub of Olympic processing. “Maybe I’ll make him take me out to dinner,” she said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg