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Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2-hour marathon attempt moved out of London

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Eliud Kipchoge‘s second attempt to become the first runner to break two hours in the marathon this fall will not take place in London.

The attempt, organized by British chemicals group INEOS, will instead be in Vienna on Oct. 12 with a reserve window of eight days through Oct. 20 in case of adverse weather.

The first announcement on May 5 called for the special race to take place in London.

Experts since chose The Prater, a historic park in central Vienna, for its ideal weather conditions and long stretch of flat road called the Hauptallee. It is nearly a six-mile circuit to create a multi-lap course that is 90 percent straight.

The venue also provides more capacity for large crowds, something missing from Kipchoge’s previous sub-two attempt at a Formula One course in Monza, Italy, in 2017. Kipchoge clocked 2:00:25 there in non-record-eligible conditions.

Like Monza, the Vienna bid is being set up to have pacers come in and out of the event, making it non-record eligible.

Kipchoge, 34, may still be peaking as a marathoner. In his last two marathons, he ran the two fastest record-eligible times in history: 2:01:39 in Berlin on Sept. 16 and 2:02:37 in London on April 28.

Next summer, he can become the third runner to repeat as Olympic marathon champion.

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Olympic marathon silver medalist banned four years

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Eunice Kirwa, the Olympic marathon silver medalist, has been banned four years for using EPO.

Kirwa, a 35-year-old from Bahrain (born in Kenya), finished second at the Rio Games behind Kenyan Jemima Sumgong, who is banned until 2027 for using EPO and then lying about it. Sumgong and Kirwa keep their Olympic medals because their doping violations came after the Games.

Kirwa, who was provisionally suspended in May, is now banned until May 2023.

Ethiopian Mare Dibaba finished third in Rio. Shalane FlanaganDes Linden and Amy Cragg were sixth, seventh and ninth, the first time the U.S. put three women in the top nine at an Olympics.

“After we crossed the finish line, Amy, Shalane and I sat around and chatted about the race,” Linden said in 2017, according to LetsRun.com. “I said it, like, ‘Within one year, we’ll all have bumped up two spots.'”

Kirwa, also the 2015 World Championships bronze medalist, last competed at the 2017 Worlds, where she placed sixth in the marathon.

Her brother, Felix Kirwa, was recently banned ninth months for a doping violation.

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Kara Goucher, Olympic marathoner, turns to trail running

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Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher always figured taking up trail running would provide a wild adventure.

Just not this wild: Encountering a mountain lion at close range on a recent run. Like close-enough-to-touch range.

Spooked, the big cat turned toward Goucher before bounding away.

Also spooked, Goucher turned and high-tailed it out of there, too.

“Hopefully,” Goucher said, “that’s the last time I see one.”

Goucher is kicking up a little dust in her newest quest — trail running. Known for her racing prowess in distances from the 1500m to the marathon, she’s taking part in her first trail marathon this weekend in Leadville, Colorado, on a route that ascends as high as 13,185 feet (4,019 meters).

“The No. 1 goal is to finish and enjoy the experience,” Goucher said in a phone interview from her home in Boulder. “But I’m competitive by nature.”

Name a distance, any long distance, and Goucher has no doubt trained for it. She had top-10 finishes in both the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2008 Beijing Games. Four years later in London, she wound up 11th in the marathon. She also captured a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships, only to have it upgraded to silver a decade later after a Turkish runner was disqualified for doping.

“I just kept moving up and up” in distance, said the 40-year-old Goucher, who was a seven-time All-American in track and cross country at the University of Colorado. “I feel lucky that my career has gone on this long. I’ve been able to stay healthy enough to experience all these different things.”

In January, she ran the Houston Marathon but dropped out after the 19-mile mark because of a hamstring injury. Soon after, she decided to embark on an off-the-beaten path — trail running.

“Challenging myself in a few ways and kind of facing fears,” said Goucher, who’s been logging about 80 miles a week to prepare for Leadville. “I mean, trails are scary for me.”

That’s because of the climbing, descents, rocky terrain and, of course, coming face to face with a mountain lion.

This is how the situation earlier this spring unfolded: Goucher was running in a neighborhood leading to the trailhead when she came upon what she thought was a “weird-looking dog.”

“Then I was like, ‘That’s a mountain lion!’” she said. “It happened so fast.”

She knew what to do in such a situation — stand tall, raise her arms, make eye contact — and promptly forgot.

“It all went out the window,” she said. “The worst thing you can do is turn your back.”

She sprinted to a nearby construction site while the mountain lion sprang in the other direction (“its footsteps were so powerful,” she recalled). Once her heart rate slowed, she called her husband, Adam Goucher, who picked her up and drove her to another trail.

In February, a Colorado runner near Fort Collins survived a mountain lion attack by wrestling the young animal to the ground and jamming his foot onto its neck to suffocate it to death.

“I was pretty shaken up for a couple of days but then I just got back on the horse,” Goucher said. “I haven’t really run on the trails by myself since then, but I’ve been back out plenty.”

These days, running is far from the only thing that fuels her. She and other athletes such as Alysia Montano and Allyson Felix are speaking out about the need for sponsors to support female competitors before, during and after pregnancy — that contracts shouldn’t penalize someone for starting a family.

“I just can’t thank Alysia and Allyson enough for lending their voices because you get a lot of criticism,” said Goucher, who ran the 2011 Boston Marathon 6 ½ months after her son, Colt, was born. “We’re on the right side of history on it.”

Goucher is also an advocate for clean sports (attending an anti-doping conference in London), organizes a high school girls camp and volunteers at her son’s school.

“It’s just living a little bit of a more full life,” Goucher said.

Make no mistake: She’s not closing the door on trying to make a future Olympic or world championship team.

“I don’t know if that voice will ever go away,” Goucher said. “My son was asking me the other day, ‘When are you going to retire from racing?’ I’m like, ‘Have you met me? Never!’”

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