Two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat leads Kenya’s chase for the first medals in a bruising midnight marathon battle as the 17th edition of the IAAF World Championships starts in Doha, Qatar today.
At 41, Kiplagat who recently relocated to America with her family will be out to prove that age is just a number as she teams up with Dubai marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and Visiline Jepkesho.
Her previous victories at the World Championships were in 2011 in Daegu and Moscow in 2013. At the 2015 global championships in Beijing, she finished fifth and settled for silver in London two years later.
“I don’t have any worries on what time we take on the road. Every time you are preparing for a race, mental shifts are important to prepare for the opponents you will be running against or the weather conditions,” said Kiplagat ahead of the race that starts at 11:59 pm Kenyan time.
Chepngetich, 24, has been phenomenal on the road in the past two years. She won the 2017 Istanbul Marathon in 2:22:36 and defended her title in 2018.
She also emerged victorious at this year’s year Dubai Marathon in a course record after clocking 2 hours, 17 minutes and 07 seconds. Going by her previous performance, she is highly placed to medal tonight.
“The general preparation has been superb, we know the challenges awaiting us in Doha, so mentally we well give our best performance,” said Chepnetich who trains in Ngong and Iten.
Jepkesho made her marathon running at the 2014 Milan Marathon winning the race in 2:28.4
Running under floodlights
She finished third at the 2015 Paris Marathon before winning it the following year. The Kenya Prions Service officer will be making her second appearance at the World Championship having debuted at the 2015 World Championships and also represented Kenya at the 2016 Olympics. Jepkesho has PB of 2:21:37.
The race will set off under floodlights on a looped course along the waterfront of Doha’s famous Corniche connecting Doha Bay and Doha City Centre, set against the capital city’s towering skyline.
The temperature by that time is expected to have dropped from the predicted daytime range of 35C and above.
Many of the runners will be used to running in hot conditions, but none will have run a championship marathon at such a time, finishing in the early hours of the morning.
Mentally, physically, physiologically it is going to be a new test for all.
In the past decade, the fastest time in which a women’s world marathon title has been won is 2:25:15, by China’s Bai Xue in Berlin in 2009.
The last two winning times in this race were 2:27.35 by Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba in Beijing (2015) and 2:27:11 by Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo in London (2017).