Nairobi: World half-marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir geared up for the Frankfurt Marathon with victory in the Family Bank Half Marathon in Eldoret in 72:27 ahead of Lucy Cheruiyot (72:55).
Kenya’s Jepchirchir, now 22, will be heading out to the Frankfurt Marathon on October 30, her first attempt at the full 42-km distance, reports Xinhua.
The World Half-Marathon title holder surprised better known performers to win in Cardiff in Wales on March 26.
“I feel am getting to the position I want to be in and be able to contest for the big city marathon. I have the fitness and speed and hopefully will be able to carry the day in Germany,” she said on Monday from Eldoret.
Consistently strong performances at half-marathon, including a personal best of 66:39 minutes for fourth place at the Ras Al Khaimah event in February shows that she enjoys top form as she seeks to make a successful transition to the full distance.
A strong recruit to the men’s race in Frankfurt is fellow Kenyan Mark Korir, the winner of the Paris Marathon in 2015 with an impressive personal best of 2:05:49 hours, Korir should relish the stage which the race beside the River Main offers for fast, aggressive running.
The Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu went for a golden top knot before making a fine winning marathon debut in 2:21:01 in Frankfurt in 2012 which remains the women’s course record and Jepchirchir took a similar course before her triumph in Cardiff during the World Half Marathon Championship in March.
Inspired by regular training alongside New York marathon champion Mary Keitany, Jepchirchir will be the athlete to beat in the German city.
If Jepchirchir needs a reminder of a compatriot who made a successful transition, she need only look at a recent winner of the world half-marathon title, Gladys Cherono, who progressed from her 2014 triumph in Copenhagen to an impressive marathon debut in Dubai in January 2015, finishing second in 2:20:03 before running the year’s fastest time to win the Berlin title with 2:19:25 on Sept. 27 last year.
Strictly speaking, Frankfurt on the last Sunday in October will not mark Jepchirchir’s marathon debut: she has competitive experience from one previous race, the Safaricom Marathon in Kisumu in Kenya on December 15, 2013, where she finished third, five minutes behind the winner, in 2:47:33.
Putting that time into perspective, this race at altitude has, in the past, often featured athletes who went on to run very much faster.
“When I was in school, I saw that running was my talent, I used to love to run. At school, I liked the 5,000m and cross country and after 2013 I started to train and to compete from 2014,” Jepchirchir said.
Two years ago her personal best for the half marathon stood at 69:12 and now, thanks to the personal best of 66:39 for fourth place at Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE on Feb. 12, she has improved by over two and a half minutes.
She is improving at other distances on the road as well, setting a best of 30:55 for 10km in Prague on September 5 last year.