Kenyan women eye Paula Radcliffe’s world record in marathon

Florence Kiplagat
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The men’s marathon world record has been very newsworthy with Kenyans breaking the mark twice in the last three years and the debate of whether a sub-two-hour marathon is possible.

But what about the women’s record?

Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe‘s best from 2003 still stands — 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds at the London Marathon.

It came in a mixed race with male pacesetters and was briefly invalidated in 2011 when the IAAF decided women’s road race records could only be set in women’s-only races. The IAAF later decided to let the record stand since it came before the rule.

Radcliffe, 39, is the only woman to break 2:18, which she has done three times, according to IAAF records of official times. Her top time finishing separately from men is still better than any other woman — 2:17:42.

Radcliffe hasn’t beaten 2:23 since 2011. The top woman after Radcliffe, all time, is Russian Liliya Shobukhova, 35, who won the 2011 Chicago Marthon in 2:18:20.

The absence of East African women from the top of the list is interesting given the top 34 men’s marathoners of all time are Kenyans and Ethiopians. 

Kenya’s top women wonder the same thing.

“Why can’t we do like our men?” Florence Kiplagat, whose personal best is 2:19:44, told Agence France-Presse. “Though I was privileged to win the women’s (Berlin Marathon) race on both occasions (in 2011 and 2013), the men turned out to be the big heroes.”

Kiplagat was referring to the last two men’s marathon world records set by Patrick Makau in 2011 and Wilson Kipsang last month, both in Berlin.

When Radcliffe set her world record in 2003, the men’s record was Morocco-born American’s Khalid Khannouchi‘s 2:05:38. As Runner’s World pointed out, 16 men ran faster than 2:05:38 in 2012 alone, yet Radcliffe’s times remain untouched.

“The time has come for us Kenyan women to make the attempt,” Kiplagat said. “It is difficult for one person to manage alone, but with teamwork we can succeed. Four of us have all managed to run under 2:20, and if we plan well and run as a team, it can be achievable.”

Edna Kiplagat (personal best 2:19:50) and Priscah Jeptoo (2:20:14) are the top Kenyans in the New York City Marathon field Nov. 3, but New York is not known for record times. No woman has run sub-2:22 there.

“I believe it can be achievable if we take a joint approach to a particular race like the Berlin or London Marathon,” said Jeptoo, mentioning two 26.2-mile events whose flat courses are more prone to faster times. “There will have to be a collective responsibility for all of us to select a race to compete in, and, in the end allow one person to go for the record.”

As AFP notes, it could be tough to get the Kenyan women together in a race and work for the victory of one. Race wins and World Marathon Major points are crucial for their income.

U.S. Olympian pulls out of New York City Marathon

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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