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Mary Keitany wins third straight NYC Marathon in rout; Molly Huddle makes podium

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NEW YORK — Mary Keitany received two phrases of advice from her 3-year-old daughter before the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Good luck, young Samantha said. Try not to fall down.

Keitany told her she would try her best.

Several hours later, Keitany brisked through Central Park for her third straight New York City Marathon title, with the largest winning margin since 1984.

Samantha and her son, 8-year-old Jared, were waiting.

“When I crossed the line, she [Samantha] was happy,” the 34-year-old Keitany said. “Ultimately, I was happy, too.”

The Kenyan Keitany became the first runner to win three straight New York City titles since Norwegian Grete Waitz won five of her record nine from 1981 through 1986.

Keitany finished in 2:24:26, which was 3 minutes, 34 seconds ahead of runner-up and countrywoman Sally Kipyego. The margin was another feat of dominance not seen since the great Waitz.

MORE: NYC Marathon Results

Keitany pulled away in the 15th mile and ran alone for the rest of the race, putting a stamp on a previously frustrating year.

As Samantha remembered, Keitany fell during the London Marathon on April 24 and finished ninth. It marked the first time she placed lower than fourth in 29 career half marathons and marathons.

Regardless, Keitany, the second-fastest female marathoner of all time, felt she had earned a place on the three-woman Kenyan Olympic marathon team for Rio based on her other recent results. Yet she was passed over in favor of three less-accomplished runners, one of whom placed 86th in Brazil and another not finishing at all.

“I was disappointed,” Keitany said of the Olympics last week. “So let me just focus on the marathon for New York and come to defend my title.”

Kipyego, a 2009 Texas Tech graduate, was reminded of her own disappointment upon arriving in New York. The 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist made her marathon debut here last year but dropped out around the 23rd mile and reportedly told her coach, “Sign me up for the next one.”

“This was kind of a redemption year,” said Kipyego, who failed to make the Kenyan Olympic team for Rio.

American Molly Huddle had Kipyego in her sights in the final miles in Central Park on Sunday. The two-time U.S. Olympian on the track, in her marathon debut, was surprisingly spry at the end of the race.

Huddle was in fourth place, 29 seconds behind third-place Kipyego at the 21-mile mark. But second-place Joyce Chepkirui was fading. Kipyego eventually caught Chepkirui, and then Huddle did with about one mile left.

Huddle closed on Kipyego, too, but ran out of pavement, finishing 12 seconds behind the runner-up in 2:28:13.

Still, she became the first American runner to make the New York City podium since Shalane Flanagan in 2010 (Abdi Abdirahman made the men’s podium about a half-hour later).

Huddle said she was “flailing” the last 10 miles. Afterward, she repeated her plans to return to the track next year, but she may focus on road racing after that.

“It was a big step in learning how to race the marathon,” said the 32-year-old Huddle, who broke Flanagan’s American record in the 10,000m at the Rio Olympics, finishing sixth. “Really happy to be third.”

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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