Lydia keeps Mathathi name alive in London Marathon

Lydia Njeri Mathathi, Beyond Zero Half Marathon champion, who will be pace-making at the coming London Marathon, during speed work at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • First Lady’s Half Marathon champion happy to support the cast
  • Martin’s younger sister among pacemakers for second group at London Marathon

First Lady’s Half Marathon champion Lydia Njeri Mathathi is among the pace-makers for next month’s London Marathon.

Yes, you guessed it! She is a sister of the famous distance running star, Martin Irungu Mathathi, bronze medallist at both the 2006 World Cross Country Championships (Fukuoka) and in the 10,000 metres at the 2007 World Championships (Osaka).

Lydia will be playing “rabbit” in a major race for the second time and has been delegated the responsibility to pace for the second group of athletes.

Lydia Njeri Mathathi, Beyond Zero Half Marathon champion, who will be pace-making at the coming London Marathon, during an interview at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

The time target for this group is two hours and 23 minutes.

Apart from pacing various athletes, Lydia is also an accomplished athlete in her own right, and has competed in various races on the road, catching the eye of race directors.
We caught up with her at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, last week where she was sharpening her skills in a speed work session.

Just like other athletes across the country, Lydia was forced to retreat from serious training when the coronavirus struck forcing the government to ban group training.

She said, that forced her to continue training alone due to the rules from the government but she is happy the country is slowly opening up and she is up to the task ahead.

“It has been a long journey in training because of the virus which sent us back to the drawing board where we missed the whole season of athletics,” said the younger Mathathi.

Lydia bagged victory in First Lady’s Half Marathon in Nairobi (one hour, 12 minutes and three seconds) with Londiani-based Emily Chebet coming in second in1:12:30 and Pacifica Jeptoo closing the podium in 1:12:44.

This was after disappointment from the Paris Half Marathon where they were forced to fly back home after the race was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus pandemic

“We flew all the way to Paris only for the organisers to cancel the race in the last minute due to the coronavirus pandemic which had started spreading across the world. I’m happy because I managed to bag victory in the First Lady’s Half Marathon and since then we have just been training at home,” she said.

Lydia Njeri Mathathi, Beyond Zero Half Marathon champion, who will be pace-making at the coming London Marathon, smiles during an interview with Nation Sport at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Last year she had been tasked to pace Great Britain’s Charlotte Purdue, who wanted to qualify for the Olympics Games, and the Briton managed 10t, clocking 2:25:38 and making the team.

“I managed to pace Charlotte up to the 30km mark and she ran well and managed to make the team to the Olympics Games. I think this made organisers to invite me once again to pace for the second group in the London race,” said Lydia.

She hails from Nyahururu, Laikipia County where a number of athletes originate but she thanks her brother Martin who is also the 2013 Fukuoka Marathon champion for the good mentorship in athletics.

“I used to participate in various races in school and this was because my brother was an athlete and I wanted to be like him. I’m happy because my brother has been of great help in my career and I will be going for nothing but the best,” said Lydia, who has a personal best of 67:51 in the half marathon.

For the few remaining days in training, Mathathi said that she is finalizing her preparedness and faster times will be witnessed due to the break.

brotich@ke.nationmedia.com