Endurance: Edna Kiplagat

By The Numbers: Paula Radcliffe returns to London for final career marathon

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
Paula RadcliffeMichael Steele/Getty ImagesPaula Radcliffe will take one final run across Tower Bridge during the London Marathon.
After years of trying to mount a comeback from a foot injury, women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe will finally return, running April’s London Marathon as the final race of her career.

The 41-year-old Radcliffe set the world record of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds in London in 2003, and last competed in at the 2011 Berlin Marathon.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Paula has chosen London for her final marathon and we know the British crowds will be out in force to celebrate her extraordinary career,” race director Hugh Brasher said in a news release.

Radcliffe was not included in the list of elite athletes released by race organizers, and will announce her intentions for the race on Jan. 30. She told ESPN.com in November that she thought about running the New York City Marathon in a non-competitive capacity, so she might not be racing for the victory in London.

Radcliffe returned to racing with a third-place finish at the Worcester City 10K race last September. Her previous race was a 2012 half-marathon in Vienna before a foot injury kept her from competing at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Among the other elite women announced for London are 2014 champion Edna Kiplagat and runner-up Florence Kiplagat; 2014 New York City Marathon champion Mary Keitany, seeking her third London victory (something accomplished by only Radcliffe and two others); and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo, who is aiming for redemption after dropping out of last year’s race around the 25K mark.

Here’s a look at Paula Radcliffe and recent marathon history by the numbers:

10 -- Number of times women have run under 2:19 since Radcliffe’s last marathon, in Berlin in 2011. She has accomplished the feat four times in her career.

2 -- Number of times the men’s marathon world record has been broken since the 2011 Berlin Marathon.

3 -- Victories in London by Radcliffe. Her winning times are the first (2:15:25, 2003), third (2:17:42, 2005) and sixth (2:18:56, 2002) fastest times in history.

3:12 -- Difference between the fastest marathon run during Radcliffe’s absence (Mary Keitany’s 2012 London victory) and her 2:15:25 record run in '03.

5:29 -- Difference between the personal best (2:21:14) of Shalane Flanagan, currently the top American female marathoner, and Radcliffe's record. Some perspective on how fast and dominant Radcliffe was when healthy.

10 -- Years since Radcliffe last ran the London Marathon, in a winning time of 2:17:42 in '05.

10 -- Months difference in age between between 41-year-old Deena Kastor (Feb. 14, 1973) and Radcliffe (Dec. 17, 1973). Kastor ran 2:33:18 in windy and cold conditions at the New York City Marathon in November.

14 --Place by Emma Stepto at the 2014 London Marathon at the age of 44.

1,309 -- Number of days between Radcliffe’s finish in Berlin and her April 26 start in London.

Kipsang, other NYC elites by the numbers

September, 10, 2014
Wilson KipsangAP Photo/Sang TanWilson Kipsang set the world marathon record (since broken) last fall and makes his NYC debut this year.
As if a star-studded American field wasn't enough, the 2014 TSC New York City Marathon has added men's world record holder Wilson Kipsang to its Nov. 2 lineup.

The New York Road Runners finalized their elite athlete field with the announcement of Olympic medalists and past NYC champions from around the world.

“We’re proud to welcome Wilson, a world-renowned marathon icon; Buzunesh Deba, the ultimate running ambassador for our City; and an unparalleled field to “get their New York on” with every stride they take through the City’s five boroughs, as they lead runners from Staten Island to Central Park,” NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg said in a press release.

Last fall, Kipsang set the world record of 2:03:23 in Berlin. Earlier this year he won the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon in a course-record time of 2:04.27. The addition of Kipsang threatens two-time defending New York Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai’s goal of winning his third consecutive New York City Marathon.

2010 NYC champion Gebre Gebremariam is also entered in the field.

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Strong finish caps Jeptoo's victory

November, 3, 2013
When she hit halfway in Sunday's New York City Marathon in 1:16:00, Priscah Jeptoo was three-and-a-half minutes behind the leader.

It was at that point that the pre-race favorite, a 29-year-old Kenyan who had the $500,000 World Marathon Majors championships on the line, got down to the business of overtaking leader and eventual runner-up Buzunesh Deba, an Ethiopian who lives in the Bronx, at Mile 24.

Jeptoo crossed the finish line first in 2:25:07, and Deba held on for second in 2:25:56.

The temperature was 46 degrees with a 15-mph headwind during the opening stretch on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. A pack of about 20 women stuck together while Deba and Bronx-based Ethiopian training partner Tigist Tufa shot out front, where they'd remain for the majority of the race.

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12 memorable New York Marathon moments

October, 31, 2013
Rod DixonAP Photo/Rene PerezRod Dixon's dash past an exhausted Geoff Smith is one of NYC's most epic finishes.
The New York City Marathon turns 43 this year. That's really not very old, but this great event has packed a lot of great moments into its relatively brief history. Here are 12 of the most memorable, in chronological order:

1970: A humble beginning
The inaugural New York City Marathon, which was the brainchild of New York Road Runners founder Fred Lebow, was a very humble affair. Almost laughably so when you compare it to what the event has become today. The course consisted of a few loops around Central Park. The entry fee was $1. Only 127 runners started, and of those a mere 55 finished.

1976: The first five-borough race
Lebow started small but always thought big. In 1976 he took a huge step toward realizing the full scope of his vision for the New York City Marathon by convincing the city to allow runners to travel through all five boroughs. Although the field was still small at just over 2,000 runners, Lebow scored another coup by attracting Olympic gold and silver medalist Frank Shorter to run the race.

1978: Grete Waitz arrives
In 1978, a relatively unknown Norwegian track runner named Grete Waitz ran New York as her first marathon, and not only won but set a world record of 2:32:20. Amazingly, it was the first run longer than 12 miles she had ever done.

1981: Salazar's world record, or not
The New York City Marathon course is not considered particularly conducive to fast times, but in 1981 Alberto Salazar recorded the fastest marathon time ever run anywhere: 2:08:13. However, Salazar's world record was later snatched away from him when the course was re-measured and found to be a few meters short. His only consolation was in winning the NYC Marathon for a third time (he also won in 1980) the following year.

1983: Rod Dixon outduels Geoff Smith
The 1983 men's elite race brought unparalleled drama. England's Geoff Smith started at a torrid pace and built a lead of more than a half-mile over 1972 Olympic 1'500 meter silver medalist Rod Dixon of New Zealand with only a few miles left in the race. But Smith faltered and Dixon slowly reeled him in, catching and passing the exhausted Brit a mere 400 meters from the finish line.

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Dado, Deba don't fear the Kenyans

October, 30, 2013
New York -- In 2011, Mary Keitany had won the London Marathon and, coming to New York City, was perceived as the top female marathoner in the world.

She took off so quickly from the start in New York that at one point she was four minutes ahead of course record pace, absolutely out of sight of her closest pursuers, including Ethiopians Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba.

Yet in an interview Wednesday about that 2011 race, Deba, more than once, declared, "I controlled her."

That was far from the common perception. But Deba, who is based in the Bronx, explained, "I know the New York course is very tough. I know her pace would slow down."

And after a pause, again, "I controlled her."

[+] EnlargeFirehiwot Dado, Buzunesh Deba
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty ImagesDado, left, and Deba are confident they can repeat their 2011 success in NYC.
Deba finally got Keitany back in her sights in mile 18, and joined countrywoman Dado -– a friend and running club partner years before in Ethiopia -– in catching Keitany just before the 25-mile mark. In a final sprint, the victory, by four seconds in 2:23:15, went to Dado.

That means that on Sunday, Deba will again be bidding to be first local resident to win the New York City Marathon since 1974, when the race was entirely within the confines of Central Park.

And again, Deba and Dado will have formidable Kenyans to contend with: 2013 London Marathon champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo, and two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat, who won in New York in 2010.

But Deba, a resident of East 195th Street, on the east flank of Van Cortlandt Park, isn't intimidated by them, either.

"Kiplagat, in 2010, at that time the pace was slow," she notes (Kiplagat's winning time was 2:28:20.). "Jeptoo, she runs on a flat course," in London and in a 2011 Paris victory.

"We will see," asserts Deba, whose goal on Sunday is to run "under 2:23."

No one is anticipating anything as quick as Keitany's first 13.1 miles in 2011, but Jeptoo and Kiplagat could be dictating matters from up front.

"Maybe the first half is fast, [and] I'm with them," figures Deba. "I need to run my best time."

Almost certainly, Dado and Deba will again team up for much of the race. Deba is 26, Dado is three-and-a-half years older, but they were members of the same police-sponsored running club in the village of Arsi Assell until Deba came to the United States in 2005.

In 2011, before the New York City Marathon, "I saw the [elite] list of names," remembers Dado, who spotted Deba on the roster. "I was so happy. I missed her."

"If there is anything I will never forget, it's that day," Dado says of her 2011 tandem effort with Deba through New York's streets. "Running with her was the happiest day of my life. I love her very much."

Dado came to New York in 2011 as a three-time Rome Marathon champion. After her five-borough marathon triumph, she returned in March 2012 and outsprinted New Zealander Kim Smith to win the NYC Half. She was fourth in the 2012 Boston Marathon and then began to have problems with what Sam Grotewold of the New York Road Runners called "a grisly infected blister."

She has no recent race results to boast about, but Dado "has the idea that she wants to defend a championship," her coach, Haji Adilo, told Barbara Huebner of the NYRR.

"That is how she is approaching this race. Depending on the weather, she feels like she is fit enough to run a PR."

On Wednesday, Dado stated that she considers Edna Kiplagat "an amazing athlete, and I am her fan. But Buzu and I have been training tremendously and we hope we can keep her in check."

Deba's training has been entirely in the Bronx.

"I love New York. New York is my second hometown," affirms the woman who does her track workouts in Van Cortlandt Park and who has done 31-mile runs around the circumference of Manhattan. "The first time I arrived in the Bronx, I loved the people. I love the place."

In 2011, Worku Beyi, Deba's husband and coach, noted that he felt moving his wife to Albuquerque at altitude might help give her a competitive edge. But soon after, "Oh, she missed New York so much," Beyi recalls. "She cried every day. She was not happy. So we moved back."

Deba planned to run in New York last November. When that race was called off, she ran Houston in January and took second in 2:24:26. In May, she won the Lilac Bloomsday 12K in Spokane and then had to take off a month from running due to a calf strain. She was fourth in Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4 and second in the Bix 7 in Iowa on July 27.

She's more fit now. On Sunday, if she beats the ballyhooed Kenyans and her friend Dado, Deba will ensure that Norb Sander and Kathrine Switzer, the last New Yorkers to win the city's marathon, will go back simply being known as the President of the Armory Foundation (operating the Armory Track & Field Center) and the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon, respectively.

Racing comes easy for Stanley Biwott

November, 2, 2012

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

NEW YORK -- Whenever Kenya's Stanley Biwott travels to the United States, he knows he is in for something special. Such is the case for the 26-year-old this weekend, as he tries to become the sixth Kenyan in 10 years to win the ING New York City Marathon, run through the five boroughs on Sunday.

"I like [the United States] because I have fans, and I enjoy it," Biwott told Race Results Weekly. "It's very nice."

Biwott comes into Sunday's marathon undefeated in five races this year, which include three wins in the United States. Over the summer, Biwott took first at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race and TD Beach to Beacon 10K, then returned in September to top the podium at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, timing 1:00:03.

"It's the people. The United States, when we come, they are very nice," Biwott said, speaking in a soft voice. "And they cheer very loud, the fans."

Even if this week's trip across the Atlantic Ocean took a little bit longer due to Hurricane Sandy, Biwott's smile doesn't show any sign of worry of stress. Flying from Nairobi, Kenya, to London, then on to Boston, Biwott finally arrived in New York City by car, riding with four other Kenyan athletes: Wilson Kipsang, Sharon Cherop, Edna Kiplagat and Moses Mosop.

So what is Biwott's secret to success in the States?

[+] EnlargeNYC Stanley Biwott
Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly Stanley Biwott seeks to become the sixth Kenyan in 10 years to win the New York City Marathon.

"There is no secret, only to train," he said with a laugh.

Coached by Claudio Berardelli as part of a camp overseen by Dr. Gabriele Rosa, Biwott has done what he thinks it takes to win Sunday's race. Rosa has produced nine NYC Marathon winners, and Biwott seeks to become the 10th.

"He has been training me very well, focusing on the New York Marathon," said Biwott, who frequently runs with Dickson Chumba, winner of the De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven last month. "He has prepared me to train."

Seeing Chumba win in the Netherlands helped assure Biwott of his fitness level.

"It has given us confidence and morale that we are doing well," he said. Biwott also touched upon how winning this year has helped him mentally prepare, reminding him what he must do if he wants to be competitive come race day. "Winning has given me moral and hope, and keeping me training hard everyday so I can keep my position."

Will the combination of training and confidence help Biwott take home the $130,000 first place prize Sunday?

"That is my prayer," he says, again a smile arching across his face. "I don't know, everybody can win. We have confidence in our training and focus."