Capital FM (Nairobi)

4 October 2013

Kenya: Kiplagat Tired of 'Escort' Services

Nairobi — Most distance running athletes would readily settle for the high distinction of winning a World Marathon Majors race twice in three years unless of course, you're Florence Kiplagat.

In 2011, her 2:19:44 career best over the ultimate distance in Berlin that was then the second fastest time ever for a Kenyan female in the marathon was drowned in the buzz of Patrick Makau's then world record of 2:03:38.

As fate would have it, having endured a listless 2012, Kiplagat returned to the streets of the German capital and racing against strong winds, put together a 2:21:13 victory to reclaim her title in the third quickest time in the world this year.

Again, Wilson Kipsang, 'stole' her thunder by demolishing the same course for a new 2:03:23 world record* and the affable athlete is 'fed up' with playing escort to her male compatriots who have raced to history to 'dwarf' her achievements.

"I consider myself lucky and blessed that the last two times the world record has come to Kenya, I have won the women's race. In 2011, I went with Makau to celebrate his record and today, I'm here with Kipsang.

"I'm happy but even we (women) can bring the world record to Kenya. It's not always men, men, men, all the time! I'm going to plan how Edna (Kiplagat), (Mary) Keitany and I can work together and break (Paula) Radcliffe's record," the 2009 World Cross senior women champion said in Iten.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the heroic welcome given to Kipsang in the town otherwise known as 'University of Champions' on Wednesday where she shared in the roaring praise given to the freshly coined marathon record holder.

"So, why can't we (Kenyan women) do what they have done and bring the world record home? I'm tired of escorting our men to world record and being there when we celebrate their return! Our time has come!" she emphasised.

"Look at what happened today for example. We were flown in a helicopter from Nairobi, the first time I have been in one, it's amazing, it can land anywhere, even in my village (Kapkitony) where I said hallo to my people.

"But this was for Kipsang, the next time; I want it to be for me. I have flown in big planes, small planes but never in a helicopter and if it means a world record, that can be planned," Kiplagat added.

She was alluding to the use of the Kenya Police chopper to ferry the two champions who serve the force home from Nairobi upon arrival from Germany after audience with Inspector General, David Kimaiyo, who promised the Berlin titleholders promotion for their deed.

"I know it will not be easy. 2:15 is very high from my 2:19 but talking to Wilson and Makau, they told me that it means you have to train harder than I have ever done," the athlete who employed a male pacemaker as she chased the clock said.

"There was a lot of wind on Sunday and when the men finished, it became even windier on the course and I could not run as fast as I could. I wanted to beat my personal best but in the end, it was so hard for Sharon (Kiprop) and me," she told.

Having won the World Cross and World Half Marathon (2010) gold medals for Kenya in addition to her World Junior silver (5000/2006), Kiplagat is targeting more glory for her country.

"Few here can say they have won medals for Kenya at the World Cross, World Half and World Junior. Now, I want to add World Championship and of course, the Olympics.

"Unlike Edna and Keitany, I'm young and still have a lot to learn in the marathon so, I know I can achieve all those things if I'm patient, focused and maintain discipline," the 26 year-old told in reference to the double world champion and the 2012 London winner in that order.

Berlin runner-up Kiprop who was at the same fete and fellowship together with Kipsang at the Africa Inland Church (AIC), Mindililwo, Iten is also eyeing to go under the 2:22 mark.

"I have run 2:22 four times and now, my aim is to do better than that. It does not matter whether I run 2:21:59, I will be very happy since it has been my prayer.

"God has been good to me since I have been finishing between number one and three and like he answered Wilson's last week, I know my time will come," Kiprop added.

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